Why Las Vegas is better than H&R Block at brand reputation

AHA CakeRegular visitors to this blog know that I strongly believe that a great brand reputation is only as strong as its people. The organization’s brand might be reflected in its tag line, positioning statement, key messaging, advertising and PR campaigns, but it is brought to life by the actions of the people who are connected to it. The best ad campaign in the world won’t work if you don’t execute your brand promise every day.

I recently had two very different experiences with brands. One exceptional (hello, Las Vegas) and one so bad that I can hardly believe they use this tag line in their e-mails: “Customer service is not a department… it is an attitude.” (Yes, H&R Block, it’s me again, hoping you will step up and do the right thing this time.)

Let me explain. Here at AHA, we recently submitted a proposal to be named the Canadian PR agency for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. We knew that there would be quite a few agencies that wanted this gig and we needed to stand out from the crowd. We developed a Canada Loves Las Vegas teaser campaign to engage the interest of the team reviewing the proposals. We approached several Las Vegas-based businesses for fun items to deliver along with cheeky little love notes from us to Las Vegas. I can’t tell you how incredibly helpful, open and responsive these small businesses were – not to mention that their products are spectacular. Their customer service was so good, it was like they became a part of the AHA team. Each one of the businesses listed below (with links to their websites) is one I would recommend without hesitation. They could write the book on customer service.

  • Enchanted Florist – They delivered fabulous flowers for us.
  • Distinct Impressions – They delivered delicious white chocolate-covered strawberries for us.
  • Caked Las Vegas –They delivered the incredible custom cake that you see in the image for us. (Get it? We sent a proposal with the cake.)

In another part of my life, I am assisting my 71-year-old stepmother with an issue with H&R Block. They made a mistake on her tax return that has created a huge amount of frustration for her – and has cost her a tax refund of $3,200. They have been giving her the runaround for close to a year. I stepped in to help and was pleasantly surprised to get a quick response to an e-mail that I sent to H&R Block’s head office and the PR agency. It was a phone call from the area manager where my stepmother had gotten her taxes done. I immediately sent him over 60 pages of information, documentation and details about the issue. And then… nothing. It went silent.

A week later, I followed up with him and he e-mailed me saying he was hoping I would wait a few more weeks because it’s tax time and he wants his staff to focus on clients. Really? My elderly stepmother is a client. I thought: “Customer service is not a department… it is an attitude.” How does this response live up to your e-mail tag line?

I can’t think of two more extreme examples – excellence from the people of Las Vegas and an epic fail from the people of H&R Block.

While there is nothing better than having AHA share your news with the world (hello again Vegas), there’s nothing worse than having a daughter with PR and social media expertise protecting her mother from an uncaring company.

I hope you will be hearing more from me about how fabulous Las Vegas is as a tourism and convention destination and I know you’ll be hearing more about my issue with H&R Block.

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