Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
January 26, 200711:48 PM

Not Just Another Air Canada Customer Service Rant

I'm Blogging this from my Blackberry. It's been a long day (still is). I've been on this Air Canada plane stuck on the Toronto tarmac since 4:30 pm (it's now 9:45 pm). Over five hours. Everything from runway delays to de-icing to needing more fuel to more de-icing to changing runways to blah, blah, blah.

It's cold and snowy. I'm tired. Everyone on this plane is tired. Can we blame Air Canada? You can't blame them for the delays. I'm also more sick of Blog bitching customer service posts than having to sit here for five hours. But how does all of this affect the brand of Air Canada? I know, the majority of people will tell you that the Air Canada brand couldn't get any worse. What fascinates me is how this brand is completely affected by outside sources as well. Friendlier flight attendants can't make the snow stop and peanuts instead of pretzels won't make the de-icing process speed up. Air Canada, to a large degree, is not in control of their brand.

Sound familiar?

None of us are in control of our brands anymore.

Truth be told, we never were in control. We thought, because we could scream louder than the lonely consumer, that we were in control. Through Social Media and other channels, consumers can scream as loud (sometimes even louder) than your command and control branding exercises.

Sitting here, it got me thinking that all brands are just like Air Canada. You can do everything right or you can do everything wrong. At the end of the day, how many people will look at a five-hour tarmac delay for a fifty minute flight and not blame Air Canada? Ironically, Air Canada is doing everything they can to stay alive in this environment... And it's a bloody battle for the mind and wallet.

What stories do your battle scars tell in a world where every voice has an almost-equal volume? How do you deliver on your brand and the experience when all of these external factors will always affect your brand in multiples compared to what you can control (if you have any control at all)?

I believe that the entire notion of what a brand is keeps changing. I think the democratization of the voice is going change brands and the overall experience in ways we could have never imagined in the coming months and years.

Update: the flight left Toronto just after 10:00 pm. I am home now. Tired. Ready for sleep.

By Mitch Joel