Saturday, March 10, 2007

Don't Lie to Your Customer

Perhaps the headline of this blog offends you. You are thinking, "I'm honest with my customers; I pride myself on being ethical." Unfortunately, too many "ethical" companies, comprised of many ethical people, lie to their customers on a regular basis. Not necessarily big lies, or calculated lies, but rather broken promises. From the broadest advertising campaign promise, to a commitment made by an individual employee, any time a promise made to a customer is broken, they've been lied to.

A case in point: Rochelle needed to rent a car for her trip to Louisiana. She chose Enterprise because of their promise of convenience. As anyone who's heard their TV commercials knows, Enterprise makes this promise: "We'll pick you up!" What could be simpler?

Rochelle and her daughter arrived at their destination and were ready to get their rental car and continue on their way. Well, Enterprise didn't show. They waited and waited. Finally, Rochelle called. A woman answered, "Oh, we are swamped! It will be about 45 minutes for us to pick you up."

Again, Rochelle waited and waited! After another 45 minutes came and went, she called once more. The same woman, a bit more frantic, answered, and said, "I will send someone right now." Finally someone came and took Rochelle and her daughter to the rental office. It turns out that that one woman was the only person there. She was the one taking care of renting vehicles, cleaning cars, answering phones, etc., etc.

Did this woman mean to lie to Rochelle? Most likely not. I am sure she would be shocked to be called a liar after all, she was doing her job to the best of her ability. But she did lie, and in fact, ultimately, all of Enterprise lied to Rochelle. In every Enterprise commercial in which customers are picked up easily and on time the company is making a promise: this what we'll do for you! When Enterprise fails to make sure that each and every rental location can keep this promise they are bound to end up lying to their customers.

The problem with broken promises and lies is that customer will remember and chose another company. Even worse, the customer may then tell their friends and family about the lie too!
Just as Rochelle told me her story, and I am now telling to you, maybe you will tell it to someone else. You can see how one small story can snowball.

Are you lying to your customers? Does your advertisement promise something that you are unwilling or unable to provide? To be successful, you need to keep all your promises, however large and small.

Keeping your word is the first step to winning and keeping your customers. Make sure you do it every time.