Have you ever fallen head over heels with a brand? Where regardless of whatever happened you would remember when it sealed your love forever. I have three brands that I feel that way about. But I always remember my first brand love as the best.
The love affair began in the summer of 1996 when my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness. I was living and working in New York City at the time and my parents lived in North Carolina. Being far away but wanting to stay connected meant frequent long distance phone calls to, not only my parents, but various siblings (I'm one of six children), aunts (my Dad had 10 sisters), and numerous other relatives.
Well in those times it wasn't a bundle deal; so, you can imagine the phone bills I racked up. My father died in the middle of the fall season. As I grieved the loss of my father, I was faced with a mountain of phone bills. I was fearless because, after all, I had just lost my Dad who was my best friend. So, I decided to call AT&T and explain the situation (because I couldn't afford to pay the bills or be without a phone). At most, I was hoping to work out a payment plan. The customer service person listened to my story of why I couldn't pay my bill in full; and that I was hoping for a payment plan. She looked at my account history and the four-month period where there was a huge spike of usage. Then something odd happened. I heard a genuine apology in her voice for my loss. She explained to me that she looked at the history to determine my average monthly charges and applied it to the four-month period and that's what I would need to pay. They reduced my bill down to my regular monthly usage! Really? With another genuine "Please accept AT&T's sympathy for the loss of your father." Just like that I cried and fell in love with my first brand.
I felt that they cared about me and they empathized with me; and they were showing it by offering an immediate solution to my problem. It affected me so much that now, almost twenty years later, I can still recall the customer service experience that made me fall head over heels in love with my first brand.
Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges. Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands.
Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.