Customers_will_talk“Among retailers, Target, Kmart, Sears, J.C. Penney, Gap, and Wal-Mart top the list of stores consumers talk about most." From citing diary-based methodology from Keller Fay

You’re not the only one surprised to see Sears and Kmart on that list. And you’re probably asking, “Well, what about this brand or that brand? I thought they would be on there.” That’s not the point of this posting. The point is, customers talk and some of their favorite subjects to talk about are eating and traveling and shopping. “Word-of-Mouth” is the latest buzzword and businesses are scrambling to harness this elusive promotional tool.

Word of Mouth today travels at the speed of light – or at least at the speed of text messages and emails and the Internet. There is an old adage that even bad publicity is good. Not any more. Ask Tom Cruise.

People aren’t just interested in value. They’re also interested in Values – as in the values of the companies and individuals with whom they do business. 

In the first decade of this new century, “Core Values” have replaced the “Mission Statements” of the nineties. Core values are those unchangeable principles that define the character of an organization or individual. Integrity, performance, quality, safety, and transparency are examples of core value words. But, this isn’t a wish list of what you would like for customers to believe about you. Remember, customers believe what you do, not what you say. 

Core Values are those unwavering standards that you would defend even if it cost you money. For instance, if you declare “customer satisfaction-guaranteed,” as a core value, then you will give an unsatisfied customer their money back even when it’s clearly their fault that the product or service failed. There are no, “yeah, but’s” or “what if’s.” If you aren’t willing to guarantee customer satisfaction even if it costs you money, then it isn’t a core value. Choose a different one.

If you haven’t listed your core values, take your time in doing so. Give it some thought. Reflect. But set a deadline, or this time next year you’ll still be reflecting. Make the new year your deadline for coming up with seven core values - both personal and professional. Write them down. Share them with your co-workers. family, or employees. Then spend the next year living into them. It will make a positive difference in your level of service. And customers will talk.