What Happens When a Favorite Brand Doesn’t Come Through?

by Heather Hughes on November 29, 2012

I am about to find out … Or, Is your actual team ready for business?

I’ve been on hold waiting for an M&Ms “representative” for seventeen minutes and counting. I decided to use this time to write about my real-time experience with one of my favorite brands. I absolutely love those M&Ms guys and decided to customize M&Ms for holiday business gifts.

The customization process was fantastic – it was easy to choose colors, add my own graphics and text, plus select from M&Ms holiday clip art. Selecting packaging was a snap. But, when it came to processing my order, the system was clunky. The interface was nothing like the M&Ms customization process, but more like an ordering system circa 2005. My multi-part order wasn’t processed correctly and runtimes were long. An order confirmation email was never sent. I called their 1-800 number to learn that during one of their busiest times of year they were only taking calls from 9 am to 5 pm EST. Hmm. So, I sent an email. Thirty-six hours later and I still have not heard back from M&Ms regarding this inquiry. There’s more but I suspect this is getting a bit boring.

I still love the M&Ms guys, but am beginning to wonder if they are simply front men for an extremely boring, behind-the-times corporation not set up to handle individual customer needs. Gosh, sorry Santa Claus, but maybe the M&Ms guys don’t exist.

What is the lesson here? Every brand must be sure it can actually deliver on its brand promise. That means “all systems are a go” for sales, IT, customer service and so on. When one or more parts of the system break down, your brand promise and equity begin to break down too.

M&Ms has done a good amount of advertising for personalized M&Ms, and for the brand in general. The company seems to be getting a ton of business for which they are not prepared. I have now been on hold for 26 minutes.

You may have built the most fantastic brand and creative in the world, but if you can’t deliver your fantastic products and services via fantastic technology and a fantastic team of real people ready for business, then that front-end stuff could all be for naught.

I still haven’t written off the M&Ms guys. Maybe I should love their ad agency instead? My favorite 2012 Super Bowl ad is referenced, uh, re-enacted on a regular basis in my house. When my puppy Henry is excited he wiggles, a lot. That’s when I say, “So it’s that kinda party! Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.”

Well, I’m still on hold – 32 minutes. The same fuzzy piano music is playing over and over again with a generic female voice telling me every 20 seconds or so, “Thank you for holding, our representatives are still busy. Please hold. Your call will be answered in the order in which is was received.” So, it’s that kind of party. Ugh.

P.S. I am still on hold after editing this post. 45 minutes. I just hung up. I did just get an email. Two parts of my order have shipped, no news on the third. Maybe they should call in Santa and his elves?

  • If they were smart, they’d play funny recordings of the M & M characters while you’re on hold.

    At least that would soften the blow.

    The scratchy music is symbolic of the greater problem.

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