Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage

Book review: Why don’t your customers trust you? That’s the central question of this treatise by a pair of customer-service consultants.

James Cowan 0
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(Photo: Natalie Castellino)

Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage
(Portfolio)
Don Peppers and Martha Rogers

Your business obeys the law, of course. You have clear ethical standards for your employees. And yes, you have a full slate of privacy policies. So why don’t your customers trust you? That’s the central question of this treatise by a pair of customer-service consultants. They argue that too many companies “still generate substantial profits by fooling customers, or by taking advantage of customer mistakes or lack of knowledge.” Among their targets are banks with overdraft charges that capitalize on their customers’ honest mistakes, and AOL, which failed to alert cable and high-speed Internet customers that they were also subscribed to a redundant dial-up service. While these legal yet questionable policies may have remained hidden in the past, the Internet has brought new scrutiny to corporate tomfoolery. And in this age of transparency, companies “will have to go out of their way to protect each customer’s interests proactively,” the authors say. Examples of “trustable” companies are already out there, like Ally Bank, which reimburses clients for ATM fees charged by other banks, or the insurance company USAA, which sent refund cheques in 1991 to soldiers who served in the first Gulf War. If the client was overseas, the company explained, they couldn’t drive their car at home.

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