When marketing drives customer dis-servce.

Author:MacLachlan, Tammie
Position:CUSTOMER Service

Telling the truth in marketing is one of the most crucial customer service functions a company can perform. By telling the truth, you give prospects and customers alike an accurate picture of products and services. This, in turn, makes buying decisions easier because the marketing message aligns with actual performance. That "yeah but' moment that occurs when the two don't match up is avoided altogether.

Despite the seemingly simple truth about telling the truth, many marketing messages continue to divert consumers away from what they are really going to get. Then, when they discover the reality anger and resentment often ensue.

In the days before widespread social media, companies often got away with this for awhile, as it generally took a media report to unmask imposters. Today, however, one tweet can ignite a firestorm of criticism and damage a company's reputation in a matter of minutes.

In tandem with social media's function as the ultimate "lie detector." consumer trust of conventional advertising has plummeted--while credibility of social media reports is growing. Consumer reviews in Google and elsewhere are helping fuel this demand for authenticity Able to access information that drives transparency consumers are demanding it more and more. Companies that continue to make exaggerated or questionable marketing claims are getting their hands slapped, and watching their stock prices fall.

An article entitled, "Consumers Increasingly Distrust Traditional Advertising" on inc.com confirms consumer sentiments. The report is based on a report from Nielsen, the global information provider about consumer watching and buying patterns., and notes, "Ninety-two percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. Online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising with 70% of global consumers surveyed online indicating they trust this platform."

Bottom line: Just tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth--and be judged based on performances versus promises. Five tips to help meet this standard are:

  1. Be complete, not just truthful. This is where "the whole truth" becomes relevant just as taking comments out of con text can prove deceptive, so can partial truths. If a marketing statement can't stand on its own--without considerable additional explanation--you're often better off not using it.

  2. ...

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