How Honest are You with Your Customers?


In any relationship, honesty is key.  Friends, family, partners and coworkers can’t have a rewarding and real relationship with you unless you are honest.  I don’t mean telling them that you can’t stand that they leave cabinet doors open in the kitchen or that they way they smack their food when they eat drives you nuts, I mean being honest about your word.

If you tell someone that you’re going to do something, do it.  If you can’t do it, communicate with them.  Let the know why, let them know if it’ll be done differently or with a different timeline.  If you can’t be honest and communicate with others, then you might as well not get out of bed because others will want to communicate or be honest with you.

In my years or running customer reference programs, this is the one thing that I did no matter what.  I always told customers that they had 100% approval on all press releases and case studies that I wrote on them.  At times it was a pain, I don’t deny that, because I had internal goals and timelines that I had to go by, but I always got the customer approval before publishing a press release or case study…because I told them I would.  I knew that if I published something with out their approval, and after I had told them I’d get their approval, then I would kill our relationship.

Not too long ago I had to bring my car in to get it fixed and Leonard, my mechanic, told me at the beginning of the process that the cost would be somewhere between $300 and $500 based on how much work was needed after he dug into the problem.  He also told me that it would be done by that Wednesday.  That Tuesday afternoon I got the call from him telling me that my car was ready.  I was thrilled because it took as long as he said it would take.  Now the next question was how much it was going to be.  Most car places that I’ve been to tell you one one thing and then when you pick up your car, it’s more expensive by “just a little bit”, meaning a few hundred dollars.  But, to them, it’s no big deal.  When Leonard called that Tuesday afternoon I asked him how much my bill was.  To my surprise, he said $380.  I was shocked, but in a great way.  Not only was he honest about the timeline, but he gave me a realistic expectation of the cost and then beat it.  Sure, he might have over inflated the cost at the beginning of the conversation, but he set realistic expectations of what I could expect from him.  That, my fellow reference professionals, is critical.  Be honest, communicate and set realistic expectations for your customers.  They’ll thank you for it!

Do you treat your customers like Leonard?

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