Guilt by association: Betraying ourselves and customer confidence

December 18, 2014

By Bob Johnson, NAID CEO

In any service industry, there is the temptation to embellish, a.k.a., “marketing puffery.” To some degree, I think we forgive it because it is easy for customers to recognize. When a service provider says they are “the most trusted name in the secure destruction industry,” potential clients understand what this means and, as a result, there is little resentment.

There’s a far more dangerous form of embellishment, however, the kind of embellishment where the service provider is trying to capitalize on customer ignorance. The customer needs to be wary of these service providers because such claims speak to the character of that service provider. Service providers need to steer clear of such claims because they insult the customer, which can lead to resentment.

These more dangerous embellishments take many forms but the common denominator is that they only work if the customer does not know the truth. If the customer knew the truth, they would almost always feel misled.

In his book, “Powerful Times,” Eamonn Kelly writes that we now live in a time when anything we hope to hide from customers will eventually be made public and cause harm. In a highly competitive market, that process is accelerated. Service providers, who are towing the line, will quickly explain to customers how they are being misled. Suddenly, what appears like a harmless marketing ploy exposes the errant service provider as a fraud. As a result, customer trust is gone. Customers who find out about such misleading claims are right in feeling that way. They should steer wide and far from any service provider trying to fool them into thinking something is what it is not. Luckily, if they want to know the truth, they can contact NAID. We will be happy to set them straight.