Honesty in Customer Service Builds Trust and Loyalty

honest in customer service | builds trust and loyaltyIt’s easy to think that every business owner understands that “Honesty is the best policy.”  Unfortunately at times business owners, large and small, may be tempted to be less than completely honest with their customers, often to save face. It never works! Even if it appears that you will get away with it, it’s not a good foundation on which to build trust and loyalty with your customers.

If you offer a service and you know that it’s beyond your ability to meet the deadline the customer is giving you, do not go down the path of “it will work out.” You will be setting up yourself for failure and a bad reputation.

Earlier today I typed in “dishonesty in customer service” in Google and there were 495,000 results.  While many of the stories were about large companies, there were stories involving incidents with smaller type businesses as well.

If you sell products, avoid making claims of what the product can do in an effort to garner sales. Openly tell your customers what they need to know and give them the facts. It’s much better to understate claims and allow the product to surpass or exceed your customer’s expectations rather than to make exaggerated claims that are unfounded and unsupported.

Once you have raised someone’s expectations, if you or your products fail to live up to those expectations, you’ve essentially lost your customer as well as any measure of credibility you may have had in their eyes.

Always keep in mind that studies indicate that a satisfied customer will tell one friend, but a dissatisfied one tells nine friends. In fact, Pete Blackshaw expands this further in his book, “Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000.”  Social media makes it possible to share your dissatisfaction with a lot more than 3,000 with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Even if your customers are not active on social media, reaching large numbers of people is not hard to do when you consider that your friends all have friends with whom they share things and each of those have friends with whom they’ll gladly share bad experiences.  This may be in an attempt to protect their friends from any type of dishonesty that was experienced.

Once your customer suspects or confirms that you are dishonest, the trust is broken and you will lose him or her in a heartbeat.  Any short-term gain will be lost and rebuilding trust and loyalty is a long, uphill battle that every business owner, large or small, wants to avoid. Honesty in customer service is the best way and it builds trust and loyalty.


Yvonne A Jones is passionate about Superior Customer Service and she combines this passion with Social Media Marketing and Reputation Management services for businesses and solo-professionals.  Learn more at http://localmarketingonlineportstlucie.com


Honesty in Customer Service Builds Trust and Loyalty — 16 Comments

  1. This is an interesting discussion, especially as far as making claims and such. Many people will buy products or services and make a lot of headway in their business or their lives. Others will let it sit on their shelves and do nothing with it, so they get angry when they get no results.

    With my products I tell people about some of the outcomes they can expect to achieve are if they show up and do the work. I don’t see this as being dishonest or over-making claims at all because I have seen many people achieve the exact results I talk about.

    It’s kind of like buying a gym membership. You will get out of it what you put into it. As long as the person has represented their product or service honestly, the results are all up to you.

    • Hi Amethyst,

      Thank you for adding to this discussion. I definitely agree with you that not everyone who purchases a product has the same results… many because they did not apply themselves. The results are entirely up to them and not due to any misrepresentation on the part of the person who created the program.

      What I’m referring to are promotions that offer guaranteed success within specific time frames, etc. We know no one can guarantee success for someone else because of variables. We’ve also seen those offers for physical products that give over-the-top results but do not do so when you purchase them.

      We’ll continue to show honesty, Amethyst, and earn trust and loyalty from those who seek out our services.

  2. Melanie Kissell on said:

    It will come as no surprise, Yvonne, how many (small business) lies I’ve uncovered on the internet.

    A truck load of lies, to be exact!

    It really irks me when I spend money on a product or program that doesn’t deliver. I’m betting you’ve had that experience, too … at least once. Maybe more than once??

    There’s NO point in “fudging” your way to get someone to spend money with you. The truth ALWAYS prevails.

    I have a lot of respect for small biz owners who develop a product or market an affiliate offering who simply state the nuts of bolts of what you get for your investment — those who never sugarcoat or embellish the features or benefits of what they’re marketing.

    • Yes, I have experienced these as well, Melanie, and it never ceases to amaze me that the people who embellish the facts think they are adding to their credibility! Yes, we’ll get suckered in once…but we’ll never come back!

      You’re a straight-shooter, Melanie, and I love and appreciate you for that.

  3. This is a good reminder Yvonne and reassuring to me because today I needed to be honest with a customer about the reasons I needed to reschedule her appointment. I wondered if I should be as straightforward as I was. This post reassures me it was the right decision.

    Keep up the good writing about customer service!

    • Thanks for sharing a practical example of the decision you took to be honest, Sharon. And you feel good about yourself because you did. Knowing you as I do, you would not have felt good about it if you’d made the choice to be less than straightforward.

  4. Lynn Brown on said:

    An old saying that still is such an important reminder for today’s business. You make some really good points here Yvonne and the statistics on the study about how a satisfied customer will tell one friend, but a dissatisfied customer will tell nine! That really says it all….

    In today’s online marketing, I think some small business owners feel that they have to tell some little white lies to get ahead. But I look at it this way, you tell one white lie, then another — soon they add up and you can see your business dwindling because of it.

    Appreciate you sharing your insight on this Yvonne!

    • Lynn,

      Out of the mouth of babes…a little one asked if little lies were called white lies, what were big ones called? If we’re not honest in small things, we eventually could fool ourselves that no one will notice. As you noted ‘eventually our business will dwindle.’
      Thanks, Lynn.

  5. Hi Yvonne!

    Great blog. It’s very important we understand the importance of Customer Service. I wrote a blog about the quality of customer care. I love how you addressed the aspect about being honest of the products/services offered. As a business strategist, I explain what services directly I can provide and the services provided by reputable partners.

    Honesty, is essential to the quality and reputation of our business. Thank you for reminding us on the essential of being in business – Honesty!!

    • Joyce, It’s great to see you here! I will be going over to read your post. I was thrilled when I saw that you Live Event focuses around Customer Service and you’re right! If honesty in not a prime component, then it’s not service to the customer at all.

  6. It amazes me how the stench of a dishonest product or salesperson will stay with me for years. It is unforgettable and I will be sure to relate the story on to another person. They say that this kind of negative publicity is impossible to undo. So why do it at all. For a quick buck? Are people that desperate? When I was in real estate, my policy was that if someone wanted out of their contract, for any or no reason, I would cancel their contract with no questions asked. It was my reputation on the line.That is why i also offer a 365 day guarantee.

    • That distaste you have for dishonest products or persons is understandable, Sarah, because you have a conscience that tells you what’s right and what’s wrong. It goes against everything you believe in to see those things. Thank you for sharing how you feel about dishonest practices.

  7. Roberta Budvietas on said:

    Interesting we are both are talking about trust in blogs today. It is more than just customer related but supplier, partners, staff etc. Trust once broken is hard to ever fix

    • It is, Roberta, perhaps because we see so much that reminds us of the need to talk about trust and honesty. A broken trust is truly hard to fix. I shared my thoughts on your post on your blog.

  8. Sharon McMillan on said:

    Great post Yvonne and nothing like hard stats to drive home the point about the actual impact bad or dishonest customer service can have on your business. Thanks for sharing this information.

    • Hi Sharon, It’s great to welcome you and thanks for sharing your observations. Many people resonate with stats and find that gives proof so while it takes more research I agree that they drive the point home. All the best in the challenge!

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