Calling yourself friendly doesn’t make you friendly

I fly quite a lot. Mostly on United. So when I started seeing United’s new ad campaign in airports, all I could manage was a weak scoff.

Flyfriendly

“Friendly” is not the main personality trait you encounter with United Airlines. Tense, snappish, officious — but not friendly. There are exceptions, of course, but a friendly experience is rare.

So are these ads just big fat pants-o-fire lies? Maybe. But more likely, they’re expressing how United wants to be perceived.

And that’s a gift mistake, as the Customer Experience Matters blog points out at United Airlines Can’t Advertise Its Way To Flyer-Friendly.

The facts about how people experience United Airlines tell a different story. United received a “poor” rating in the 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings. United is in next-to-last place among U.S. airlines, and ranks 216th out of all 235 companies rated. They have not improved at all in the last year in these ratings.

That is, people are having bad experiences at United.

And there’s no way they can advertise their way out of it. In fact, the disconnect between their chipper, happy marketing and the more grim reality, will mostly increase people’s unhappiness with their experiences.

What does this mean to nonprofits?

Simple: Live up to your promises. Don’t make high-flying statement that mismatch with reality. That lacks integrity, and gives donors a reason to leave you.

United should become friendly — then start advertising itself as friendly. But that’s a lot harder to do than what they’re doing now.

Don’t let this happen to you!


Comments

6 responses to “Calling yourself friendly doesn’t make you friendly”

  1. Brady Fox Avatar

    Jeff,
    I love this point you make as it is something I have been applying to my business everyday. So many people settle for customer satisfaction when in fact, customer satisfaction does not add much value. Companies need to Wow their customers every day and create loyalty. Its the best form of marketing, cheap and efficient.

  2. Brady Fox Avatar

    Jeff,
    I love this point you make as it is something I have been applying to my business everyday. So many people settle for customer satisfaction when in fact, customer satisfaction does not add much value. Companies need to Wow their customers every day and create loyalty. Its the best form of marketing, cheap and efficient.

  3. One touchstone in this regard for me is the story of one of the gas station chains. Their ad agency decided that they were going to compete on bathroom cleanliness – everybody loved the idea. But they also knew it would be lot of work to actually keep the bathrooms clean, which they did – for the duration of the campaign, at least! If the customer experience doesn’t align with the marketing, things will not go well. That goes for non-profits, too.

  4. One touchstone in this regard for me is the story of one of the gas station chains. Their ad agency decided that they were going to compete on bathroom cleanliness – everybody loved the idea. But they also knew it would be lot of work to actually keep the bathrooms clean, which they did – for the duration of the campaign, at least! If the customer experience doesn’t align with the marketing, things will not go well. That goes for non-profits, too.

  5. The corollary to this in the nonprofit world is the organizations that call themselves donor-centric, yet treat their donors like ATMs.

  6. The corollary to this in the nonprofit world is the organizations that call themselves donor-centric, yet treat their donors like ATMs.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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