By: Lisa Slagle
Several weeks ago after work, my manfriend, puppy, and I drove nearly all the way to Calgary to pick up a snowmobile I’d been eyeing.
We had talked extensively to the seller about the sled— what was wrong with it (“Nothing”), why was he selling it (“didn’t use it much anymore”), and what kind of condition it was in (“Perfect.”). We had asked for lots of photographs, and the snowmobile looked like it was in great shape. Go time.
We left Whitefish at 5pm, got heavily searched at the border for 45 minutes, navigated dark, snowy roads, ate a super healthy dinner of Tim Hortons coffee and donuts, and rolled into our destination at midnight.
There we were, puppy and all, standing in some guy’s field in rural Canada, shining truck lights on to what turned out to be a giant pile of disappointment.
(Of course you knew how this story would turn out…. I don’t know why we didn’t see it beforehand.)
You see, the reality of this snowmobile did not match the expectations we had been given.
The sled had not been taken care of— it was rusty and covered in evidence of being stored outside and uncovered on a ranch year-round. In a last effort to see past the snowmobile’s rough appearance, my boyfriend ran a compression test on the engine, which it failed.
The photos we had received a few days prior must have been taken the day this sled was originally purchased, and the empty promises of perfect condition led to great disappointment.
To make matters worse, the guy selling it did not waiver on his price— the cost of an engine rebuild and one new A-arm. So, we turned around empty-handed, and rolled back to Montana at 4:30 in the morning, exhausted, disappointed, and moderately grumpy about the whole experience.
During the long drive home, I thought about what was causing the extreme feeling of deflation we were experiencing.
It was simple: We had been sold on something that was greatly different from its reality.
We had ridden a cycle of hope, action, excitement, anticipation, and disappointment, followed by a bit of prideful anger.
Of course this relates directly to owning a business and a brand’s promise to your customers.
If your brand says something, it had better back it up.
The quickest way to abandon all hope of loyal customers is to promise one thing and deliver another.
Your brand can make promises in lots of ways--
If the snowmobile guy had just told us he had a mediocre snowmobile that needed an engine re-build, we would not have been disappointed. We would have made the choice to check it out or look somewhere else for something that better matched the reality of our needs.
But hey, at least we got donuts out of the deal.
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