Monday, November 23, 2015

#empobld Zoning out

I promised that I'd continue to talk about the Empoprises Rule of Brand Loyalty Disruption. If you missed the rule, here it is:

No single event is sufficient to disrupt a person's brand loyalty. Multiple events must occur.

I'll start with a personal example that happened to me last week.

As an automobile owner, I need automobile parts from time to time, and for the last few years I have mostly gone to Auto Zone to get these parts. Auto Zone has my information stored under my phone number, and has records on multiple cars that I own or have owned. I can tell you where Auto Zones are located in Ontario, California; Fullerton, California; and even Long Beach, California. Heck, I even have a loyalty card!

Fast forward to one evening last week. Because of the change from Daylight Saving Time, I now drive home in the dark. As I was trailing a truck on the 57 freeway, I looked at the back of the truck, where reflections of my two headlights would be seen.

I only saw the reflection of one headlight, not two.

You can guess what I decided to do next. Go to the Auto Zone in Ontario and buy a new headlight bulb. So I got to the Auto Zone and walked in. I was greeted and asked if I needed anything. I told the employee that I was looking for headlight bulbs. He told me the aisle to go to if I knew what I was looking for. That was a silly question, I thought to myself. I'll just go to the aisle, find the book that lists all the headlight bulbs, and find the correct bulb for my car.

So I got to the aisle...and there was no book there. And no tablet or other electronic device in the aisle to allow me to look up the correct part number. (My car manual had been removed from the car recently when we cleaned the car, and I hadn't yet replaced it.)

Let's briefly return to the Empoprises Rule of Brand Loyalty Disruption. The lack of a way to look up part numbers was not, in and of itself, sufficient to send me fleeing from the Auto Zone. Why should it be? I knew from past experience that Auto Zone employees could look up part numbers on their computers. Plus, since they already had a record of their car, it would be very easy to look up the correct part number. I would just have to show them my card.

So I walked back to the counter and asked the helpful employee to look up the part number for me.

He went to his computer register...but the computer was down.

He walked to another computer...and it was also down.

It turned out that every computer was down except for one - and that one was being used by another employee to help another customer.

Let's briefly return to the Empoprises Rule of Brand Loyalty Disruption. The lack of working computers was not, in and of itself, sufficient to send me fleeing from the Auto Zone. After all, the employee had a helpful suggestion:

"Why don't you pull out the existing light and we can match it up?"

The employee didn't realize that I am not mechanically inclined at all. For me, the process of changing a headlight bulb in a car is an complex process that could take an hour or more. (Fast forward: when I finally did obtain a bulb, I had my father in law help me, and we pulled the old bulb and put the new one in within ten minutes.) In addition, even if I knew how to change a light bulb (how many bloggers does it take to change a lightbulb?), I wasn't sure that I had the proper tools to do so. After all, what was I going to use to remove the existing headlight assembly - my card?

"Uh, I don't have the tools," I replied. And then I said, "I'll come back tomorrow."

To put it bluntly, that was a lie. I tend to avoid conflict, and while I was saying that, I knew exactly what I was going to do. I had no intention of coming back to Auto Zone the next day. Instead, I was going to drive to the O'Reilly Auto Parts store that was just a quarter mile away.

Now those things, in and of themselves, won't particularly drive me away from Auto Zone permanently. But after I went to O'Reilly, got the bulb, and called my father in law to ask him to help me install the new light the next day, he happened to mention to me that he was going to O'Reilly more and more himself. And he had been with me to the Auto Zones in Ontario and Long Beach. In fact, he might have been the one who suggested that I get a card.

But what am I going to do the next time I need a part for my car? Frankly, I don't know.

Maybe I should see if O'Reilly has a loyalty card.

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