Lies are like cockroaches

It used to be “the cheque is in the post”, but with the near demise of cheques and the adoption of electronic communication, that’s something we rarely hear in 2016.  What I do hear is “your call is important to us” or “due to unprecedented demand, all our call handlers are busy”.  Really?
I might believe it the first time, but if this happens regularly, at different times of day and is clearly an automated system, I’m going to doubt the sincerity behind those words.  One of our clients really value their customers so highly they routinely over-man their customer service team and have designated deputy account managers for each customer so they are hardly ever unable to speak immediately to someone who can help them.
It might only be a slight untruth, or even a white lie, but it does matter, because lies are like cockroaches – once I spot one I’m expecting there to be more!  I’m now viewing and listening to everything you communicate with a sceptical eye or ear, undermining all the hard work and money you have invested in crafting those messages and getting me to notice them.
In an era where trust in the establishment is undermined on a regular basis (think MP’s expenses, FIFA, drug abuse in athletics …), businesses and brands need to be more careful than ever to maintain complete integrity in dealing with customers.
And the damage doesn’t stop there.  Unintentionally, you’ve modelled the wrong behaviour to all your team too.  If it’s OK to tell lies to customers about how important they are, then where else and to whom is it acceptable to mislead, hide the truth or fib?  It’s a slippery slope that leads ultimately to falsifying emissions tests, overstating profits or writing our own 5-star testimonials.
Even the smallest untruths are nibbling away at your brand reputation, and ultimately you’ll probably get found out!