Your brand never rests. It’s “on” 25/8 and just when it feels safe to take a breather, something awful happens and your brand is rudely shaken from its slumber forced to address some calamity or another.
Similarly, your employees, every single one, are 24-hour guardians of your brand’s integrity and may never nap on their critical, tireless responsibilities to steward the brand’s reputation. Every member of the team represents the brand, on the job and off, and may be called upon to be its ambassador at any given, unpredictable moment. This basic principle of brand management applies equally to both Challenger Brands and Gorilla Brands as I experienced recently during a business trip to Chicago.
After a few days of fascinating, compelling and engaging meetings (actually, they really were), I was sharing a colleague’s Uber on our way to O’Hare to catch a plane home. I was the first to be dropped off and in my haste to safely exit the car on the driver’s side, no small feat in Friday rush hour traffic at one of the nation’s busiest airports, I hopped onto the curb with my carry-on but left my brand new Timbuk2 messenger bag in the backseat with my friend. As I realized I was without my bag, the Uber had pulled away into the sea of traffic heading to the next terminal.
By the time I was able to track down my friend (I didn’t have their contact info), they were already in the airport and the driver was well on his way to the next passenger.
Nearly everything of importance to me was in that bag including my wallet with my identification and money. I did have my phone with me, so I had one tool with which to navigate home. I now know that I will be without that bag as I plan my strategy to get home without ID. Impossible, you say? Read on.
First stop, the United ticketing counter to catch a later flight. The ticketing agent, without judgement or concern for my lack of ID, booked me on the next flight and issued me a boarding pass. “Don’t you need to see my ID?” I asked. “Nope, but TSA may be less forgiving,” the agent quipped, “But, you better hustle, the flight is boarding.”
I race to the security check-in line and show the stoic line monitor at the entrance my boarding pass and said, “I don’t have my ID, who should I see…?” The automatronic staffer looked beyond me to the next traveller and with maximum exasperation and minimal empathy said, “Keep going, sir.”
Ok, then. I’m now looking ahead of me at a significant line that will substantially impact my ability to make my flight, should I successfully traverse the security gauntlet that lies ahead; but it does give me a chance to gather my thoughts as to how to position my conundrum with the TSA officer awaiting to review my papers.
“Next,” the uniformed agent says to me. I approach and hand him my boarding pass. “ID,” he requests. “Funny story…” I begin and then explain that I just lost my wallet. You would’ve thought I told him that he’s been assigned a double shift tonight, without breaks. “You’ve got to be kidding…” he stops himself and says, “…stand over here, sir.” He points to a vacant stand a few feet away and then gets on his phone. A moment later (not even 60 seconds), another TSA officer, assumably a manager of some repute, emerges from a nearby perch and approaches me.
“Alright, sir, tell me your story,” he says as he gently escorts me off to the side. I explain my situation and he hands me a form to fill out. The supervisor takes my completed document and places a phone call. “Charlie, Romeo, Alfa…” he says into the receiver speaking to who I assume to be someone very important at Homeland Security. “Sir, they want to know where your mom was born.”
I share with the supervisor answers to these types of questions and when the Director of Homeland Security on the other end of the phone seemed satisfied with my responses, the supervisor hung up. In hindsight, it seems unlikely that the TSA supervisor was speaking to the Director of Homeland Security, but I’ve been accused of having an inappropriately high opinion of myself in the past.
Having all he needs, the supervisor, in a purposeful yet quite friendly manner, walks me past the long, serpentine line of passengers awaiting to undress and go through the scanning equipment. In fact, he insisted on carrying my luggage for me. We bypass the conveyor belt, skip around the X-ray machines and plant ourselves on the far side of the security station where I receive a private, yet thorough luggage and body search.
“You’re all clear; good to go,” my new favorite TSA supervisor said. “Your gate is just down this hall a few yards; you’ll have no problem making your flight.” “How often does this kind of thing happen?” I asked. “All the time,” he said in a manner that removed any hyperbole from his statement.
From the time I received my updated boarding pass to the time I was in my seat on the plane was less than 15 minutes. As it turns out, losing my wallet saved me about 20 minutes; although I would never recommend this travel strategy.
In the world of travel, TSA is the gorilla brand and not particularly well-known for their customer service. Yet, the TSA brand has customers who determine its reputation and level of integrity on a daily basis. Integrity that rests in the hands of every TSA agent in every airport across the country; millions of touchpoints everyday. And, on this particular day, I was the customer who recognized their worth, their integrity and their value. TSA took care of me at a very stressful moment and enhanced their reputation in my eyes. If ever I hear people dismissing TSA, I will share my story, thus perpetuating the positive impact of a single member of the brand’s team.
Remind me to share with you my efforts to retrieve my car from off-site parking once I arrived home. Travelling across country without ID was nothing compared to getting your car out of a parking garage with no claim check, drivers license or money. A story for another day.
If you could use some help identifying ways to delight your Challenger Brand’s customers, just contact us here.