May 12, 2006

Almost Right


Trying to think about customers as if they were family is a popular concept. Hugh McLeod asserts that if someone spoke to you like advertising did, you would "punch them in the face". Jim Logan disagrees. Jim maintains that customer service and advertising tells you what you want to hear, just like family. They are both almost right.

Advertising tells you what you want to hear, but they have yet to become a part of the family. Advertising is just some guy on a first date with your daughter. You have to pay attention as long as it is present in your life. Eventually, if it goes on long enough, you may even have to make a decision. Either way, you were not the one looking for it, but it may or may not solve a problem you may or may not have with a perspective with which you may or may not agree. Maybe by then, your daughter, and her entire family, is engaged.

A functional family will tell you the truth. From time to time, everyone has a family member who exuberantly supports you because she believes in you. Not because you are right, but because she has faith in you. With that exception, a family member should tell you the truth. If a family member tells you what you want to hear to appease you, they are doing you a disservice. The same goes for your customers. Be honest, be truthful, and they will be, too. And everyone lives happily ever after.

Easier said than done.