Be honest with your customers to maintain their trust

This week’s theme of honesty with your customers was prompted by my own experience recently with my mobile phone provider.  It reminded me of the importance of being honest, and for customers, the considerable gap between what the business tells me and what actually happens.

This is important, because despite marketeer’s efforts to make “personalised experiences” for customers through targeted email campaigns and promotions, the reason a customer purchases from your business, and their likelihood to buy again, buy more or recommend has a lot to do with how honest you were with them.  Let me walk through my recent experience to bring this point to life.

It was time for a new mobile phone provider, and in the UK highly saturated mobile market, competition is stiff and prices are keen.  I opted for one of the largest – the website was slick, the purchase rapid and the SIM arrived quickly.

In the first few days, despite their advertised claim of the “No.1 rated network” & their superior 4G network, I was having trouble making and receiving calls and access data at home, at work and generally around central London.  I even resorted to downloading their app to my phone to allow me to use WiFi to make calls (and still deduct from my inclusive bundle), rather than use their voice network.

The next disappointment came when I received my bill.  At FOUR times higher than I expected, I was shocked to see that although I had gone over my inclusive allocation of minutes, I’d received no alert or notification, and was instead billed at a rate equivalent to calling premium rate numbers per minute.  How did that happen?  Why didn’t they tell me?

Claims by mobile company of providing the best deal, with most reliable network and least complaints in the industry don’t seem to ring true for me. Will I stay with this provider when my contract expires, buy any more services or recommend them? Certainly not.  My impression of the company and their product before and after feels light years apart.  This is where the honesty comes into play.

Customer loyalty and retention is heavily driven by trust, which is built over the course of a relationship.  The greater the trust, the more a business may be forgiven.  Customer expect and even want businesses they trust to promote other goods and services to them.  When a business delivers an honest experience that delivers on the promise, this increases the customer’s propensity to buy again.  Bad business and bad practices are ever more regulated, making sure that customers are no longer misled or miss-sold products.

And yet there are still elements of our customer experiences where we shy away from honesty.  We know what they are, and they make us cringe.  Think about the risk of deceiving your customers or failing to deliver on their expectations.  Take time to review your experience, your marketing and your website for honesty and make sure that your promises and your customer expectations are more closely aligned to ensure long and healthy relationships!

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