The Devil is in the detail, as they say. Businesses like Vision Express invest tens of thousands – hundreds of thousands – of pounds in their brand image. The shop frontages. The uniform. Interior design. Training. Marketing. Advertising.
It’s a slick High Street machine and one of the reasons I transferred my business to them a few years back was that I was so impressed with the customer experience. Great knowledgeable staff. Great environment. Great support.
So I really couldn’t believe it when I saw this letter a couple of days back, brought to my attention by one of my clients. She brought it to me as an example of shocking customer communication – which it undoubtedly is. But the fact that it comes from the Vision Express brand is simply extraordinary.
Let’s just check it out in all its glory…
• It’s not on official letterhead – so no brand in evidence, anywhere!
• It was printed on cheap copier paper – so incongruent with the quality of the VE brand
• It has spelling mistakes. It has grammar mistakes. There is practically no punctuation. Yet they want me to believe they are professional and competent – this incongruence is jarring
• The layout is ridiculous – no paragraph breaks, and really poor use of the paper – I mean, they could have sent this on a postcard! Meaning it’s hard to read. Which means I’m less likely to bother. What a waste of effort.
• It’s confusing – VERY!! How many offers can you slot into a single sentence I wonder?
• It opens with ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ despite the envelope being personally addressed
• And it’s not signed. Sooo, you want me to believe I am really important to your business, but you can’t even be bother to check out my name and sign a letter to me?
• It’s an extraordinary waste of money in its own right, but likely to cost them so much more in the long run
Are there idiots working in your business?
Vision Express is partly a national owned chain and partly a franchise business. My guess is that this has come from a franchisee who has decided to ‘go it alone’ with this offer. There are several lessons to business owners here …
• If you run a franchise business, NEVER allow your franchisees to have control over outputs that can damage your brand. Marketing and branding should be managed centrally.
• Anyone in your business – franchise or not – who communicates externally needs VERY clear guidelines on how to get this stuff right. Manuals and standards go a long way to help.
• Never assume your team won’t act in an idiotic fashion. Most people, left to their own devices, are capable of extraordinary levels of stupidity. As the business owner, it’s your job to minimise the impact!
• You can’t manage what you are ignorant of. What procedures do you have in your business to check what is being sent out in your name?
• And finally, if your staff don’t understand the value of your brand, and how precious it is to your business, it’s 100% down to you. No-one else.
Probably the most worrying this is that, unless the shop manager or franchisee reads this blog post, they will probably have no idea the damage they have done. A good example where ignorance is not always bliss!