I have recently personally encountered several brands with hugely inconsistent service quality, so much so that the inconsistency has changed my perception of those brands. Here are some of those examples:
- I have a favorite place to go to receive a therapeutic massage. The lead massage therapist at that establishment delivers the best massage I have ever had. I have had massages by others when she is busy and all of those massages have been excellent too...until a few days ago, when one of her fellow massage therapists gave me one of the worst massages I have ever received. It was absolutely terrible. I aways recommended this establishment to everyone, raving about the quality of massage. I have stopped doing so and I am more inclined to try other massage therapy establishments.
- There is a coffee house that I frequent if I am in a certain part of town. The baristas have always been friendly and the coffee has always been quite good. Recently, I ran into a surly barista who somehow made a sub-par cup of coffee. Given that there are so many coffee houses around town, most of which are quite good, I am now more inclined to seek out another coffee house to frequent in that part of town.
- We live in the woods surrounded by a very diverse biosystem. To keep the less desirable elements of that system out of our house, we use an environmentally-friendly pest control service. They typically explain everything that they are doing, stay well away of our herb and vegetable garden, and do not treat anything on our property that has no direct impact on our house. We are reluctant to use a service like this, but due to the prevalence of carpenter ants in dense woods, we carefully selected an environmentally sensitive service. We have been impressed with the service until the most recent treatment in which the person they sent was spraying everywhere, even killing a bee colony, which made us exceedingly sad. One of our cats got sick a day later and was listless for several days. We think she ingested some of the poison, which that person carelessly left throughout our house. My opinion of this service has declined significantly. I really don't want that one employee to come back to our house again.
I could cite four similar examples, one being a house cleaning service and the others being a roofing company and two professional service firms, however I think you get the picture. Brands' reputations can be destroyed by one bad experience. Usually this involves a service employee who should not have been hired or who was poorly trained. Sometimes, it involves a temporary worker who was used when demand had gotten too high for the regular staff to adequately meet. Given the number of competitive options in today's world, one mistake can have a huge impact on a brand's reputation. Maintaining consistent quality across service providers is essential in a service business.
To take my first example again, I was hugely impressed with the massage therapy brand I had found. I told everyone I knew that they should try that brand. I considered it to be exceptional in its quality and its value. After my most recent experience there, my perception has changed significantly. I will no longer recommend the place fearing that a friend of mine might not get a massage from the competent massage therapists but rather from the person who didn't know what he was doing.
Be very very careful in maintaining consistent quality, especially in the service part of your business. One bad experience can significantly tarnish your brand's reputation.