Friday, May 22, 2009

Telling the Truth and Long Term Customer Loyalty

By: Mark Workman

Truthfulness is a difficult subject in a culture where standards are falling fast. Being truthful is almost a weakness in the business world, seen as clinging to old school approach to life and business. Ambition should be the rule of the day guiding our choices and direction as we see colleagues as enemies to be conquered and overcom. Blind ambition would define success by the results only, never considering the means that achieved the goal. We are a results oriented culture, willing to justify all kinds of behavior once considered immoral as moral simply because we win the battle. The results matter more than any other measure of success and it is driving our culture right into the ditch. The real truth here is that the lack of truthfulness will eventually take the short term results or success, and show them for what it really are; short term success at the expense of long term viability. Many of the companies that operate under the guidelines of shady truth, or ambiguous info, simply do not last. The motive for being truthful is not guided by producing a profit, but is guided by the simple fact that telling the truth is the right thing to do. Profits are a result of being truthful in your business pract As an example, the trucking industry is literally still the last place a verbal handshake drives the industry.

Truck owners are always looking for new shippers, and many times empty trucks are moved into place to transport loads with new shippers with a verbal handshake over the phone between the dispatcher and shipper. The industry moves so fast, and the truck owner needs to keep the wheels rolling or face company failure.

There is little time to evaluate shippers accurately, so the agreement is largely dependent upon the promise given to provide the transportation service from point A to Point B, and the promise of the shipper to pay promptly upon the agreed price. What happens is the dispatcher does not have a truck in place yet, but will in a couple of days. The dispatcher stalls, with panicked calls about flat tires, breakdowns, or the driver may be having trouble getting unloaded, keeping the new shipper on the hook for this trucking service they need.

The driver shows up, gets ripped by the shipper, and the truck driver tells the truth, that he was in Iowa and just got unloaded that morning. The result is the trucking company did ship the load, but lost the shippers business and respect forever for future shipments. Looking at this example, what would have happened if the dispatcher had explained he would have a truck in a few days and was interested in doing business? Even if he would have not gotten the load to be transported, the dispatcher would have begun the process of customer loyalty with the truth.

Telling the truth when it feels or appears that it may hurt you, always produces the opposite result. Most customers are reasonable, telling them the truth only builds trust for everything you say now and in the future. Even if anger or frustration is there response, trust is still being built. Telling the truth, when you think it is going to hurt you will build customer loyalty like no other principle in the virtue column. Telling the truth is an assumed part of the customer experience and the service they expect. When considering this issue, where is this behavior of not telling the truth born? Not telling the truth is driven by fear; fear of man, or maybe fear of losing, being seen as a failure. Fear driven business is bad business, creating outcomes that will not last.

The entrepreneur operating in fear always chooses to feed his panic, anxiety or fear, justifying a lie to keep the business going. In truth, all they are doing is sowing the seeds of destruction of their entrepreneurial efforts, having to go back and relearn, over and over again, one of the most basic lessons in life. Establishing truthfulness in your life is the right thing to do and will produce long lasting results for you and your company. Customer loyalty will increase in strength and numbers. You personally will grow, because you have chosen to operate from the character planted in you at birth, rather than blind ambition, looking at the results only. In these economic times, truthfulness is the key ingredient to getting through to the other side of this recession, strengthening your business and yourself.

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About the Author:Mark J Workman

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