This is Part 3 of a 5-Part series: Joy of Honesty in Business.
Dishonesty is so rampant we can hardly be bothered to take offense.
A previously recorded message insists that our call is important, but apparently not important enough to answer.
A letter arrives marked “Important! Open Immediately” — a sure sign of unwanted solicitation.
A vendor sends you a mail-merged thank-you note; your last name is misspelled and in all-caps.
A corporate mission statement places customer satisfaction first, then throws up layers of bureaucracy to distance customers from those with the knowledge and ability to solve problems.
Almost all our business interactions are tainted with these half-truths, actions incongruous with words, all smoke-and-mirrors. Half the time it feels like companies are doing just enough to not outright lie… but only just.
Do you want to be different from 99% of other companies? Be honest. Be genuine.
I’m not the first to recommend this, but how do you go about “being genuine?”
- Admit when you’re wrong, quickly and genuinely.
- As soon as something isn’t going to live up to your customer’s expectation — or even your own internal expectations — tell them. Explain why there’s a problem and what you’re doing about it.
- Send hand-written letters. Second-best send typed but personalized letters.
- Newsletters and blogs should contain useful, interesting articles, not just plugs for your product.
- Instead of pretending your new software has no bugs and every feature you could possibly want, actively engage customers in new feature discussions and turn around bug fixes in under 24 hours.
- A human being answers the phone, as fast as possible.
- Emails are answered in under 15 minutes by a human, not an automated reply. If it’s going to take a long time to answer, a short response buys you as much time as you need.
- Send emails from real people, not from firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Send personal emails.
It’s true that most of these ideas take time and effort; that’s exactly why they work! That’s why your competitors don’t do it, but that excuse isn’t good enough for you. You know that thrilling your customers is how you keep customers, how you earn their business even in recession, and how you get people to fight on your behalf when the budgets get cut.
People do business with people they like. Communicate quickly, as yourself, and be willing to admit shortcomings.
In other words, be a real person.
Do you have more ideas for how to build genuine customer relationships? Join the conversation, leave a comment.