I live out of my Victorinox messenger bag.

victorinox

Me and my Victorinox have walked every corner of this city. It’s been with me on planes, trains and automobiles to New York, Nashville, Atlanta, Denver, San Diego, San Francisco, St. Petersburg, and halfway around the world to Melbourne, Australia.

And then, last week, while crossing Tremont Street here in the South End, one of the metal rings that connects the shoulder strap to the bag gave way. The 1/4 inch metal had completely severed! My bag fell to the ground, its contents strewn about in the middle of the street. Fudge.

Sitting in my office an hour later the realization began to set in. How the hell am I going to operate without my bag? I logged on to the Victorinox website looking for repair info and quickly found a service phone number.

Great! I just need my receipt and registration card, right?

That night I turned my apartment upside down… to no avail. I’d since purchased a Victorinox wheeled garment bag, and of course I was able to find that documentation right away. But the documentation for my messenger bag––the bag that I’ve traveled around the world with for 6 years––was nowhere to be found.

So I did what anybody preparing to go toe-to-toe with a customer service department would do––I prepared for battle.

The next morning I called the customer service number. I pressed 5 for repairs and took a deep breath––ready to hold, and readied for battle.

But the line immediately rang. What, no 8-minute hold?

And then a woman answered the phone. A real person! Seriously? One level in on the phone tree and I get a real person with no wait?!? Are you kidding me?!?

Then she asked how she could help.

Hi… uh… my bag broke..
Been a customer for years…
I don’t have a receipt…
But I do have a different receipt…

Thankfully, she cut off my stammering,

CS: Sir, let me give you an address to send the bag to and we’ll fix it if we can, otherwise, we’ll replace it…

Me: I don’t have a receipt or my registration info…

CS: That’s okay, we just need to verify it’s a Victorinox bag and we’ll take care of it…

At that moment I moved from being a loyal Victorinox customer, to being a brand advocate.

I had purchased, and been very happy with, two Victorinox products. After burning through a bag a year until I bought one of their products, I didn’t hesitate to make them my luggage brand of choice.

I was loyal… but it wasn’t really something I talked about to others.

Until that moment of advocacy occurred.

People’s relationships with brands exist on a continuum from awareness to advocacy (in the non-profit world, “support” and advocacy go hand in hand):

Awareness > Comprehension > Participation > Loyalty > Advocacy

You can’t skip a step, and brand-focused communications (while critical) can’t do it all. Successful brands must live their values, too.

A that moment, when the quality of interaction equaled the quality of the product, I was instantly converted into a Victorinox brand advocate.

I had graduated from loyalty.

Brands need to remember that every communication––and every interaction––either contributes to a compelling, valued brand mosaic, or not.

The Victorinox brand is built on the notions of quality, durability, and precision. Lucky for me, those ideas permeate more than their products. They’re ethos the whole company embodies (that was some high-quality, high-precision service after all).

In the end, Victorinox was good to me, and I’m now compelled to return the favor.

Does your brand foster an environment for advocacy?

Have you experienced such a moment yourself?