The Wizard's Downfall

“Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line and a representative will be with you shortly.”

Twenty-eight minutes later, an apathetic, poorly trained call center drone clarified through her actions what her company actually meant: “Your call is really not important to us at all. If it were, we’d staff more customer service specialists, train them better, answer quickly, be respectful of your time, and genuinely want to help. However, we are focused on maximizing profit and since you have no better alternatives, we’re going to treat you however we want. We don’t actually value our customers since they are replaceable numbers to us.”

Too often organizations spout empty platitudes without any intent to deliver. Business executives, politicians, community leaders, and even parents regularly make substance-free claims and believe just saying something is enough.

As we learned long ago, actions speak far louder than words and there’s just no substitute for walking the walk.

In the classic movie “The Wizard of Oz,” we all remember that dramatic moment when the man behind the curtain was revealed to be an impostor. In the end, the all-knowing, controlling, and harshly judgmental wizard had no power at all. His credibility was shot, and all respect was lost. His career was over when this inconsistency was exposed; yet so many companies and leaders today are moments away from such a tragic fate. We call this disconnect “The Wizard’s Downfall.”

Posting a sign in your lobby claiming “Innovation is priority #1,” but then sharply criticizing all new ideas is an example of the Wizard’s Downfall. Boasting that you value diversity but then only hiring those that look, act, and dress like you is a Wizard’s Downfall. Pounding your fist on the table to voters with righteous indignation, but then later getting ousted in a sex scandal is a most disturbing Wizard’s Downfall.

As savvy consumers, we all have highly developed BS detectors and each little inconsistency we experience undermines the relationship among people, organizations and officials. If you’re looking to grow your company, hollow claims will create more problems than good. If your airline encourages people to “fly the friendly skies,” you’d better be prepared to back that up in a big way. If you tell people your company runs “at the speed of business,” anything other than rapid responsiveness is a disastrous miss.

Take a look at your messaging and brand promise, and work hard to remove any hint of the Wizard’s Downfall. Being authentic and truthful will build deeper client relationships than any empty campaign slogan could ever accomplish.

To take your business to the next level, follow your own yellow brick road by embracing that same sense of authenticity, consistency and truth.

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