National Customer Service Week: The HEART Model, Principle #3

National Customer Service Week: The HEART Model, Principle #3 image ncsw day31National Customer Service Day Three“People may doubt what you say but will always believe what you do” goes a famous quote about integrity.

It is no small coincidence that in the middle of our H-E-A-R-T series of five core values in customer service is the letter A, which stands for ACT with integrity. Integrity is the core within the core of values, it is what lies within us, what we hold important, what defines our dealings–as customer service agents, as managers, as workers, and as persons.

To have integrity is to possess the courage and self-discipline to adhere to your set of values and ethics. Given a choice between doing what you want to do and doing what you need to do, or doing what is easy versus doing the right thing, which one is it going to be?

The Used Car Salesman

The mere mention of the phrase “used car salesman” easily conjures images of a smooth-talking, up-to-no-good trickster who’s out to make a quick buck out of an unsuspecting client. While not always fair and justified, such an image is not without basis. Some salespeople have been, still are, and can be dishonest with their dealings.

But the opposite is also true. There are honest used car salesmen out there. There are a number of family-run used car businesses that have ran for generations with a long list of happy and satisfied customers.

What separates the good and the bad? Integrity.

Integrity is a big word, built out of small things. In our daily dealings with our customers and our stakeholders, certain values and traits are desired and expected:


Being truthful with our products and services – and communicating about them clearly and accurately is a good start. Make sure customers know what they’re buying and let them know how the product or service can address their wants and needs. Different people are driven by different buying decisions. Misrepresent a car, for example, for anything more than it actually is and you drive the customer out the door and into the competition.

Honoring Commitments, Keeping Promises.

When companies make warranties on products, we expect them to fulfill it. A warranty, on a personal level, is not much different from a promise we make to customers. When we make promises to our customers, they expect us to make good on our word. If a call center agent promises a call back, he or she must call back. When we set expectations, we should always make sure they are met.

Should things turn out less than perfectly, as in the case of a defect in the design, components, or workmanship, a product recall may be in order. Product recalls cost companies millions of dollars in actual losses and several millions more in future losses due to adverse publicity. Honesty may come at a steep price, but nothing worthwhile, like staying in business, comes easy.


We are what we repeatedly do. Certain rules can’t be bent to suit certain parties and individuals or because it is convenient for a particular situation. In an organizational setting, the policies we set become our norm, our rules, and it is how we will be known to our customers in the long run.

We go back to the quote at the beginning of this article: We can extol our virtues, harp on our strengths, using big words in glossy ads, or in our daily spiels. But in the end, it is how we do the little things, and how we delight every single one of our customers that will decide how good and desirable we really are.

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