What I learned from my ‘relationship’ with Virgin

I did business with some folks from Virgin several years ago.  They were looking to redesign their brand (group) website, the company that I worked for (Blast Radius) won the business and as the Client Services Director for the UK, I became their account manager.  As a result of working with Virgin, I have become fond of Virgin,  I associate it with the following qualities: fun, warmth, friendliness, sense of humour, intelligence, straight talking, caring, humanity, hard work and professionalism. I stopped working with Virgin back in 2007.

Now how is it that I ended up associating these qualities with Virgin?  Is it because of their marketing communications? No.  Is it because of my experience as a customer?  No.  I did do business with Virgin, they had an ISP who I signed up with for broadband.  I found their welcome pack easy to understand and useful.  Yet, I did not develop a relationship with Virgin ISP nor the brand.  When the 12 month contract was up, I switched to another small and friendly ISP.  In my customer satisfaction did not lead to renewing the contract and thus being a ‘loyal customer’.

This weekend I was delighted to reconnect with a lady I hold in high regard.  Her name is Pooja Tanna and she was one of the three people that were my customers at Virgin.  I had been looking to reconnect with her for several years – in fact since she moved to M+S.  I had continued to make efforts to reconnect up with her, despite the fact that I had made several efforts over the last two years and had heard nothing back from her. Why did I not give up when I got no response from Pooja?

When I think of Pooja I think of fun, warmth, friendliness, sense of humour, intelligence, straight talking, caring, humanity, hard work and professionalism.  In short, it is the values that Pooja lived whilst I was  ‘her Client Services Director’ (her words) that I associate with Virgin. These values and behaviour are meaningful – attractive – in my world.

What I take away from this is that the personal – the human interaction – matters a great deal.  It is the human interaction that is the basis of relationship and the source of bonding and loyalty;  the role of technology is to play a supporting role – to enable great human interactions.  And any company that wants to create loyalty needs to make sure that they have great people like Pooja:  the front line staff are the brand ambassadors in the eyes of many customers.

Author: Maz Iqbal

Management consultant. Working at the intersection of the Customer, the Enterprise, and Technology. Deep interest in human existence. Disposed favourably to the Existentialist stand. Penchant for originals and original thinking, as well as stimulating thinking and rocking the boat. Otherwise, thoroughly ordinary.