Trust is a most fragile brand value

In our current marketplace, trust is not enough to win you customers.  You have many trustworthy competitors.

However, the slightest chink in your “trust-armour” can lose you customers.  Here’s an example:

I have been a loyal customer of Orbitz for a number of years, creating a near-reflexive habit of going to orbitz.com when I need to book travel.  Each time I use Orbitz I am offered the chance to click a box and purchase travel insurance, which I never do.

I noticed three travel insurance charges on my credit card bill, related to three international reservations I had booked. When I called Orbitz they said it was too late to remove these charges since the travel dates had passed.  “But I never selected travel insurance” did not seem to be a plausible objection to them.

With the agent on the phone I walked through a couple of “mock” reservations, and learned that for international reservations travel insurance is pre-selected, and you need to opt-out if you don’t want it.

What a bait and switch.  For years I’ve been given the choice on Orbitz whether I want travel insurance, and then they sneak it in when I book international tickets.  My brand impression of Orbitz changed immeditately.  It went from “hassle-free/always-works/I-can-count-on-them” to “I better keep my eyes open from now on because they will try to take money from me when I am not looking.” We went from a We relationship to a definite Us & Them relationship.

Don’t ever be tempted to sneak something by your valuable customers.  For about $100 Orbitz lost most of the trust I had in them.  Making money in this way is a great example of “bad profits.”

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in We relationships
8 comments on “Trust is a most fragile brand value
  1. Judith Ellis says:

    Oh, that’s just awful, Steve! I so agree with your “bad profits” statement. This will probably become an outright negative over time. Your story reminds of credit card companies who are increasing the interest rates to some 30% of customers who have paid on time every month for many years. The relationship definitely becomes antagonistic and probably at the first opportunity credit card holders will go elsewhere or pay with cash if they can. This is what I’m hoping at least. I’m not sure if we always realize the effect of our actions which sometimes are not seen immediately and because of this we go on doing what isn’t right. But often times this catches up with us.

    It reminds of another recent story of a pastor who allowed one wealthy member to buy her expensive gifts of some $10,000 in the name of love and giving. “Give and it shall be given unto you.” (It’s funny that the gifts mainly flow one way.) I believe in this scripture but despise manipulation. The member had been giving smaller “love” offerings for some time along with her 10% tithes, the percentage of her earnings. This was quite sizeable. But these things weren’t good enough for the pastor. She accepted that outrageous gift. When the husband heard of it he demanded the “gifts” back and demanded that his wife leave the church. The gifts were returned and she and her tithes have not been back.

    Distrust in leadership hurts the intended message of the church and perhaps shakes the faith of others. It is the talk of the church and this can’t be good for this congregation. The same is true of business. If you’re wondering what this has to do with business, many churches, perhaps other places of worship too, have become like businesses. The “billable service” is the ministry. This story has much to do with trust. It seems that the husband never trusted the church anyway as he visited occasionally but never became a member. There is also something so ugly about underhandedness and craftiness that is so despicable when such trust is breached, not to mention that many people separate themselves when trust has be breached. There is definitely no We there.

    Here is yet another recent relevant experience I had with the water department. I called the City recently as my billed had tripled and I live alone. I was told that it’s probably because of the summer months, watering the grass and all. But it had been a rather mild summer and the grass hadn’t been watered nearly as much this past summer as the summer before.

    When I mentioned that the summer had been a cool one there was a long pause and the clerk said, “Yeah, that’s right.” I wondered if other people had called to complain about the same thing. She then said, “Check the meter and let’s see if you have a leak.” She walked me through the process and there were no leaks. I don’t know why the bill increased so drastically and such is difficult to tell, simply by reading the meter. What I thought for sure was that my usage had not changed drastically. But maybe it had. Perhaps, I’m just not entirely trusting of government anyway. This is a problem. No We relationship there. The problem is that I can’t walk away from the water department.

    By the way, I can see Larry David of the HBO show “Curb Your Enthusiasm” writing a script about your story above. Oh my, he would have a lot of fun with that one. Great post, Steve! Thanks.

  2. Brad Haan says:

    Hey Steve,

    Your experience also points out the new, great marketing phenom: Viral Marketing. Companies need to realize that these huge mistakes made for incremental dollar charges lays them wide open for all of us to begin the sharing process.

    Orbitz didn’t just lose your trust over that small dollar charge. They lost mine. And whoever else in my friend-group. They lost everyone who reads your blog, and trust YOU. And their friends.

    I don’t have time to examine your situation with them. But I have known you for 35 years. (Gawd, that’s a trip, right there!) With Priceline, CheapTickets, Travelocity, etc. right there to take over, why waste my time even thinking about Orbitz?

    Then, once they realize their error in judgement, how long does that take to fix and heal? I dunno about you, but I won’t even be looking to see if they fixed it. All I am going to remember in my finite, little brain (which makes all my purchasing decisions 😉 ) is to never use Orbitz.

    Now, moving right along, what were we talking about?
    Brad

  3. Judith Ellis says:

    “Orbitz didn’t just lose your trust over that small dollar charge. They lost mine. And whoever else in my friend-group. They lost everyone who reads your blog, and trust YOU. And their friends.”

    This is so very true!

  4. Judith and Brad,

    Thanks for the comments. I agree with everything, except for one thing: Brad, it’s wishful thinking to think we’re young enough that we’ve only known each other for 35 years. I think it’s more like 40!

  5. Brad Haan says:

    Shhhhhh………..

  6. Brad Haan says:

    Now you’re trying to Viral me!

  7. Larry Kaufman says:

    As previous comments have pointed out, Orbitz not only lost YOUR trust, but that of the readers of the blog, and those to whom they forward it.

    But nobody has explicitly stated that the loss of trust is followed by the loss of business…sort of the converse of putting your money where your mouth is, in this instance, not putting it there.

    I can’t take my own business away from Orbitz, because I don’t shop there anyway. But I have stopped buying the Sun-Times because I got pissed at one of their columnists, I have stopped shopping at Whole Foods because their CEO spouted off anti-healthcare reform, etc.

    Trader Joe, Tribune, Travelocity — here I come.

  8. I am an investigator with the law firm of David P. Meyer & Associates. We are investigating a potential case against a major online travel site regarding alleged charges to consumers for travel insurance without their full knowledge. If you would be willing to assist in our investigation or would like more information about this case, please call me at 1-866-827-6537.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Subscribe to the Blog
Email:  

On Steve's Mind
Get Steve's newsletter featuring his ideas and practical advice delivered to your email inbox.
* = required field
Latest Tweets
Testimonials
Kathleen Phillips
Not only is Steve's content sound, but the energy he displays in delivering it will knock your socks off.

Kathleen Phillips

Ernst & Young, Chicago, IL
Alex von Bidder
In these high pressure times of bite-size communications we all hunger to be listened to and cared for individually. Our customers know great hospitality, the kind that is not about selling but treating their needs as our highest priority. Steve Yastrow’s teachings are applicable to any business that values long-standing success based on personal relationships.

Alex von Bidder

Managing Partner, The Four Seasons Restaurant, New York
roma-maxwell
I give Steve two thumbs up—five thumbs up, if I had that many!

Roma Maxwell

Roma Maxwell, Director of Sales and Marketing, Rancho La Puerta
Rhoda Olsen
Steve Yastrow has clearly described the emotional reality of customer relationships and their impact on profitable business growth.

Rhoda Olsen

President, Great Clips for Hair
Craig Dwight
Steve’s approach to integrating all customer contacts into a comprehensive marketing message is a must in today’s information age. We have partnered with Steve to develop our integrated and comprehensive marketing message, and as a result of his excellent work, his new book is required reading for all of our employees.

Craig Dwight

Chairman & CEO, Horizon Bancorp
David Sank
I highly recommend Yastrow and Company to any business that is intent on enhancing their customer experience. Prior to working with Steve, we were communicating various messages to customers. Steve and his team helped us achieve a cohesive brand message that we as a company live daily. Steve is an incredible listener and learned the nuances of our business rapidly. I can’t imagine anyone Yastrow and Company couldn’t help.

David Sank

President and CEO, Calico Cottage
roma-maxwell
Rancho La Puerta has enjoyed continued success because of the work we did with Yastrow and Company. Together, we implemented business strategies that have contributed to our success. Steve and his team truly believe in our brand, and our experience with them was empowering, fun and a great learning opportunity. I highly recommend Yastrow and Company to any business that needs help building the bottom line

Roma Maxwell

Roma Maxwell, Director of Sales and Marketing, Rancho La Puerta
Mike Depatie
Steve Yastrow is at the forefront of the next evolution in marketing. We have implemented many of his innovative ideas... and have seen very positive results.

Mike Depatie

CEO, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants
Marc Allen
We are absolutely better off after engaging Yastrow and Company. They helped us look at our business from our clients’ perspective, resulting in a cultural shift throughout our organization. These changes have made a big impact - we’ve gained new clients and strengthened relationships with existing clients. The investment was well worth it.

Marc Allen

Vice President of Sales, AMD Industries
jim-winter
Steve put together a program that produced spectacular results, and the quality of our communication and customer satisfaction is vastly improved. I’ve been in business for 40 years, and Steve’s the first consultant that I’ve gotten my money’s worth from. We’re going to continue to work with Steve and the bright, energetic people that are on his team.

Jim Winter

COO, Dimension Design
Chris Miller
I rarely book speakers more than once. But I’ve used Steve four times! Steve has our association’s interest at heart and works tirelessly to deliver customized programs. He always ranks highly with our affiliates because he is outcome-focused, fast-paced and highly engaging. Anyone looking for insight and understanding into marketing, branding and sales should book Steve!

Chris Miller

Executive Director, Professional Systems Network International
roma-maxwell
Rancho La Puerta has enjoyed continued success because of the work we did with Yastrow and Company. Together, we implemented business strategies that have contributed to our success. Steve and his team truly believe in our brand. I highly recommend Yastrow and Company to any business that needs help building the bottom line.

Roma Maxwell

Director of Sales and Marketing, Rancho La Puerta
Ward Alles
Steve Yastrow knows his stuff. That's why our management team has read all of his books. And that's why we've had him as a keynote speaker at both client and employee events. From creating brand alignment, to selling more effectively, to providing top-notch customer service, Steve offers words of wisdom based on real-life experiences. He always engages his audiences with questions, interactive exercises and great storytelling that keep you coming back for more. Read Steve's books. Then book Steve. You'll be glad you did.

Ward Alles

CEO, Core Creative
american-licorice-logo
We have seen huge benefits from Steve's input. Steve is unlike any other consultant I've ever worked with. He takes a genuine, deep-seated interest in our business. He is intuitive and able to identify problem issues quickly. We wouldn't be as far along in acheiving of our long-term growth strategy if we hadn't actively and aggressively pursued Steve's Brand Harmony.

Michael MacDonald

Executive VP Sales and Marketing, American Licorice Co.
jim-evans
Yastrow and Company introduced Brand Harmony and their Be the Brand concept to our team at Jenny Craig.  I believe these new ideas contributed in helping us triple the company's revenue during my years as CEO.

Jim Evans

former President and CEO, Jenny Craig
Alex von Bidder
Steve Yastrow's teachings are applicable to any business that values long-standing success based on personal relationships.

Alex von Bidder

Managing Partner, The Four Seasons Restaurant, New York
Ditch the Pitch is a great read-- interesting, fun, and easy to follow. And I’ve already seen the concepts work. Just yesterday, I called a client and had a conversation that was 95% about the client, as the book suggests. At the end of the call, he sent a new matter my way. I ditched the pitch and it resulted in new business.

Attorney

Chicago, IL
Jennifer Whelan
“Steve’s workshops helped bring out what is best at Acuative. His insights were fresh and long-lasting—we continue to use his tools and approach years later.”

Jennifer Whelan

Vice President of Marketing, Acuative
Doug Ducey
In one morning, Steve re-energized the way we look at marketing. The only question we had at the end of the session was, ‘When can we get him back?'

Doug Ducey

CEO & Chairman, Cold Stone Creamery, Governor of Arizona
Jennifer Whelan
Our work with Yastrow and Company yielded the best long-term value of any consulting engagement we’ve ever had. As we grow and expand internationally, Acuative continues to depend on the branding approach and marketing tools Steve and his team developed. Yastrow and Company genuinely partnered with us, were exceptionally responsive and remain committed to our success.

Jennifer Whelan

Vice President of Marketing, Acuative
Tom Peters
When Steve Yastrow writes, I pay close attention.

Tom Peters

Founder, Tom Peters Company
Chris Tucker
Steve is a creative and collaborative speaker who communicates his ideas clearly and concisely. He immediately understood our business needs and provided a better perspective on how our customers see us as a company. I have referred Steve to our customers in the past and I will continue to do so. He’s intuitive and has a unique way of looking at business. Steve has the experience to turn a project into something extremely valuable for any organization. I strongly recommend working with Yastrow and Company.

Chris Tucker

Director of Business Development, MBX Systems