Customer loyalty requires honesty from the start

Many companies are focused on their customers. They LOVE their customers. Just ask them. They’ll tell you how wonderfully customer centric they are.  But there’s a problem.

As they tell people how much they love their customers, they also spend a lot of money lying to them.

Jim Logan writes an article at that illustrates this well. In it he talks about offer’s he’s gotten from various companies and how they sound or look good on the surface. But closer inspection shows they are misleading at best and outright lies at worst.

A well-known example Jim cites is Blockbuster:

Block Buster once announced a no late fees offer that included restocking fees and automatic charges for late returns. (My emphasis).

As a Blockbuster customer I hated this one. So did a lot of other people because they got in trouble and had to change it. This episode makes me view Blockbuster as a company that will tell me anything to get me to buy. My perception of them is they will lie to my face if they think it will separate me from my money. So how do you think I feel about being their customer?)

And they’re not alone. This is too often the norm rather than the exception.

I understand the twisted logic of these ploys, at least I think I do. But what I’ll never understand is why they think abusing and insulting your customers is a smart strategy. When you purposely mislead your customers you are abusing and insulting them. You are telling them they are either too stupid or too powerless to do business elsewhere.

Whatever the reason, companies that do this are dinosaurs. They will not last. They say “curiosity killed the cat”. I say dishonesty will kill your business. And it should. There is no room for it in business (or in life).

As a customer you try to avoid doing business with companies that lie and mislead. As a business owner or manager, don’t be that company. Make sure everything you do and say passes the “mom” test. Would you make this offer to your mom? Would she approve?Or would she scold you for it?

And one more thing. Use the same standard with your vendors. The people you do business with affect your reputation. They need to share your values as much as possible. Don’t let a seed of dishonesty creep into your business because you have a vendor who thinks it’s okay.