2020: A Brand Odyssey


Posted By: Greg Ness
October 29th, 2020
5 minute read

A recent experience with a national brand left me wondering about the future of “business as usual” in an economy of continuously rising expectations. Our water softener service experience exposed a hard reality: those who underestimate the power of digital transformation will retain fewer customers and lose more than their digital-savvy peers. I’m realizing the potential for a dozen or so forward-thinking, data-driven agencies empowered with seamless Digital Concierge Platforms to re-engineer customer experiences for thousands of brands… and tens of millions of their customers.

Personalized Digital Engagement… the New Oil

Last week we covered the value of the digital engagement journey by calling it “the new oil.” Attention spans are shrinking as more organizations enter the digital experience space, often with cobbled tools, technical debt and dependence upon specialized skills for the simplest customer journeys. A recent experience drove the problem home, literally to our garage. The vendor had our attention, but that was the problem.

Drip, Drip, Drip

Weeks ago our water softener had its second lapse in 12 months. With each issue we suffered through a drizzle of water for a few weeks waiting for a service call. Yes… the crucial water supply to our home needs to wait two weeks for a service call.

But that’s not all.

The second time I went online looking for instructional videos to fix a faulty, plastic bypass valve. I had used YouTube videos to repair a much more complex dishwasher, including ordering and installing a new circuit board a few years back. This was far simpler.


$300… for the dealer diagnose the problem

I went pages deep on multiple search terms and most of the content referred me to the dealer van roll. I called the dealer. Yes… two weeks before they could stop by or I spend a minimum $300 for them to merely take a (sooner) look. I made an appointment for the two-week service interval. Drip, drip, drip went our faucets.

A local plumber asked for $300 to repair

We got frustrated with the idea of weeks more of the water torture (my wife especially- lol) so I called a local plumber. He told me to text him a photo of the faulty valve and our system. He looked at the image, called me back and told me $300 would get it fixed within two hours.


Immediately I was struck by the contrast between a plumber who could diagnose with a photo and knew enough to promise a fix and the dealer repair service charging $300 to give us an estimate on their own system. It gets even worse.

Technician Error? Maybe…

The plumber arrived and quickly showed me what happened. The last time we had the unit serviced the tech had accidently unwound the valve too far, disabling it. A few turns too many and… oops, you have no ability to get decent water pressure without waiting for a professional to fix. I hope it was unintentional…

Fixed in Seconds

Then he fixed it in a matter of minutes. The repair was trivial compared to a recent dishwasher repair which took me about two hours. Had I known I could have fixed the valve in under fifteen minutes and even kept the unit in place for a couple weeks. He took the softener out and pitched us a competing brand he had in stock. We were obviously done with brand x and considered making a change. Maybe.

The Van Roll

I called the dealer to cancel the appointment the day we resolved the issue. About two weeks later the van showed up anyway. The poor repair guy had no idea what happened or why. So now the water softener company lowered employee productivity as well.

What a difference a real digital customer experience would have made

Imagine going to the company website and registering with a model number and address and being directed to a specific video journey based on your problem. A troubleshooting journey. No random YouTube videos to sort through, just approved content. How about a text message following up to see how the repair went? Maybe between videos a pop-up ad for a new line of saltless conditioners or under sink purifiers, based on our purchase and maintenance history? How about a bot for rescheduling?

The marketing team could track issues, engagement by franchise, city, state, region and refine the content and/or coupon existing customers with deals for new units.

Clearly the execs of this company would rather fly blind and feed my Facebook account with ads soon after my query. Let’s see how far that gets them. After I made a negative comment the ads disappeared. I suspect they had a system for monitoring comments from frustrated customers.

Do You Want the Personalization Edge? It’s Right Here

Tired of waiting for IT to set up customer engagement journeys? Tired of maintaining cobbled systems that get you 80% there? If you’re a digital-forward agency or organization let’s change the way brands engage with their customers. Won’t you join us?

Give SmartStory a test drive and discover the difference.

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