I say “Brand Experience” and You say this, that, and other things which partly to mostly confuse me. Yes, And, none of the above is possible if a brand can’t deliver. Consider one case … literally. At first glance it might read like a tired tale of the now clichéd brick and mortar struggling to stay in the game against the click and order set. “Technology Once and for all Conquers Humans.” Nah, it’s more than that. After all, you can still fail online – even if you’re Google. (In fact, it’s easy to blame technology when maybe the story is just another chapter in “Humans: Getting in Our Own Way for Millennia.”) So, I see it as a question of focus. Not, ‘Do what you do well’, but, ‘What do you do, really?’ Here’s the lowdown:
FADE IN ON: Me. A typical morning. I am not at home cozily luxuriating over the choice between a drive to the local big box and a visit to a virtual wonder world. I am simply a guy who needs a book—right away—whose immediate instincts tell him, “Get off your butt and walk down the street if you need it now.” Right. I’ll call first.
9:00 AM Me calling Barnes & Noble … “You have reached….store hours are 10:00AM…”
10:42 AM (Let’s give’em a chance to sip some coffee first)
Me: Hey I am looking for this book.
B&N: Uh, we don’t have it in stock.
Me: How soon?
B&N: The closest one is in Illinois, so……
Me: (Soooooo? Not soon, then.)
B&N: A week?
Me: Is that the soonest?
B&N: Uh, yeah.
Really? There are no copies at the Upper East Side location? What about Fifth Ave? Queens? Newark? Philly?!
I am bewildered.
With four floors worth of books they didn’t have room for one small book weighing in at 7.2 ounces, less than an inch thick? It’s not like I was looking for the rarest book in the world. And really, the next closest copy was in Illinois? Should I just call Illinois directly?
It’s time to give the disembodied machines (and the very real behind-the-scenes people) a chance.
Me: Skeptical that Amazon is going to be able to do much better than the behemoth down the street.
<Click> <click>, Cliiiiiick> Click?!> <clikclickclcikclcicklcickcl> CLICK!
Amazon: Here’s the book you are looking for and here are your delivery options, oh by the way if you order it in the next 13 minutes we guarantee delivery today. So……what do you think?
Me: Heck yes.
10:52 AM – 5:15 PM
Me checking the delivery status every five minutes. Can they really do this? Can they really pull this off? I need a Tums.
In an age where we have the ability to monitor every piece of communication and make it look like a real person is reading your email … I‘m skeptical that there really is a live human on the other end of the “Submit” button who is going to take my request seriously – and DO something about it. “Yes, we did say we’d get you the book today, but you’re the one who was gullible enough to have believed us.”
Me: Despair. The great experiment has failed. Close that tab on my browser, it’s over. There’s no need to track the <sniff> guaranteed delivery anymore.
Brand meltdown or consumer meltdown? Stay tuned for the ending to my book-hunting misadventures. Yes, you’ll have to wait a week … but every experience is worth waiting for, is it not?