Your brand’s reputation is not about the bells and whistles of your products and associated technologies, or the glitzy marketing campaigns. It is much simpler.

Our firm has gone through constant re-engineering to adapt to changing needs of communication, so that clients are always served with the most relevant forms of communication outreach to the media and other stakeholders.

So, we have gone full circle, to bring back video as a mainstream media outreach tool again. The last time we used video full-time as a means of corporate communication was in the mid to late 1990s, when non-linear editing just began on the consumer desktop (remember AVID Media Suite Pro and Adobe Premiere 1.0?) These days, 1080p HD video and non-linear editing are no longer uncommon, and the online video phenomenon has cemented the need for video as a serious communication medium, complementary to textual news and content.

I have gone on to embrace DSLR filmmaking as the main means of creating HD video, which works out great. I use the Olympus and Panasonic micro four-third (MFT) cameras with interchangeable lenses, which worked very well in the field, whether in blazing hot weather, or indoors. I have used such MFT HD DSLR systems successfully to produce video news releases (VNRs), live event recording, and even live-streaming for clients, with these cameras mounted on rigs and stabilization gear.

More recently, I decided to purchase a semi-pro HD video camera system from a name brand vendor, potentially as a video camera for long events, since video cameras can use large capacity batteries that may not be readily available for MFT HD DSLR systems (there are some custom solutions, but are OEM rather than from the original vendors).

There was a wide-angle zoom lens that I bought for the HD video camera, just a month ago, and used for a test shoot only once. Over the weekend, I brought out the lens and mated to the video camera and thought of experimenting with shoots over the weekend. When I turned on the video camera, a strange whirring sound came about, and an error “non-corresponding lens” came about, and the iris would not open, thereby yielding a dark image that was unusable. I mated the video camera to another zoom lens, and it worked perfectly.

I brought the lens to the authorized service center and explained the situation, and the junior frontliner took the lens and tried it on the center’s camera, and it seemed to work. He mated the lens back on my own video camera and it seemed to work. However, because this lens and video camera is meant for professional shoots and NOT a hobby tool, any sign of even a single failure means that I cannot take a chance. Imagine shooting a live client event and have the lens fail on me, and the client’s faith would be lost, and I would have failed the client because the lens chooses to fail at that time. It is unacceptable. Therefore, I explained to the junior frontliner that this lens needs to be exchanged with another lens as a replacement. The frontliner had the most intolerable expression on his face and insisted that no exchange can be made. I stormed out of the service center.

To me, this video camera is no longer worthy to be used for professional shoots, and I would relegate it as a toy in a corner and used when I feel like it. I cannot stake my professional reputation and my client’s very important needs on a tool that may just malfunction at the wrong time. My confidence as a consumer is erased, and is unlikely to be restored simply because the vendor’s junior staff refused to recognize the importance of a simple exchange of a faulty product. And confidence from a consumer is not easily earned, and is easily lost.

I will therefore invest in what I already own, in the MFT HD DSLR systems which have not failed me in tough shooting situations.

What could a vendor have done? The product was bought recently, and is meant for professional work. The vendor should:

1) Develop frontline employees to be patient, and especially, to only recruit people who are empathetic to the needs of others. Those without empathy have no business serving customers directly at the frontline.

2) Empower frontline employees to make good judgment calls to exercise product exchanges or loans until products are properly diagnosed and repaired, and refunds when necessary. If frontline employees cannot be empowered for some reason, have field managers on hand to immediately resolve such issues and make the right judgment calls in favor of customers.

3) Follow through with customers who face product failures and issues, to ensure that confidence can be restored, and continue to keep in touch with such customers. After all, even customers who face problems with your products are capable to be won back by your empathy and good follow-through service, and can eventually even be your evangelists.

The world is getting smaller, and the market getting more competitive. Winning a new customer is tough, and keeping one is easier if you make even the smallest effort. Recovering a customer who faces problems with your products, become paramount to keeping existing customers and potentially winning new ones through word-of-mouth evangelism. Isn’t it worth every bit of your time, effort and resources to keep your hard-earned customers?