My Experiments with Customer Service Part V ….. The ‘Just Plain & Simple’ Logic

From the Crucibles of JPS Customer Value Academy

 Just Plain & Simple                                                     

 ….. Helping Create Customer Value

The Indian Optician, July-August, 2010 Issue

A lot of communication designed for customers, is full of high sounding claims and big promises. Special courses on communication reinforce the need for ‘hyping’ up your message to attract customers towards your products and services. There is great merit in identifying a niche, ‘focusing’ communication and polishing the messages that go out. But very often, what happens in the process is that the final message comes out quite distant and different from the actual benefits of one’s offerings. Exaggeration as an art form is very effective, but there is a thin line, which when crossed, can make the same claims unbelievable and misleading.

Part of the contributing factor could be the formal ‘art and science’ of communication. The process is quite evolved for sure. With logical steps and holistic mapping, it is meant to create ‘compelling’ messages for the consumers to ‘want’ your product (needed or not) and to ‘call to action’, leading them into stores as if following The Pied Piper. Dissection of elements, researching of responses, studying consumer behaviour ….. all good techniques, but sometimes leave me wondering at the ‘unrelated and unrealistically’ hyped up messages that actually emerge as an outcome of the exercise. I remember my childhood days and the vendors in our local mela (fair), who used to scream at the top of their voices, attracting customers with ‘Tall Claims’. How was that skill different from the one we see today, bringing out well researched but excessively hyped up claims !?

Perfumes that attract the opposite gender (sure enough there was litigation when a person did not find the fairer sex getting pulled to him, even after years of use of a specific brand), toothpastes strengthening teeth to break rocks, slimming products that show results in inconceivably short time periods, banks that have smiling employees spending all the time in the world chatting with you, four hour complaint resolution promises ….. Cinderella like transformations galore !!

There is a pressure to have cash registers ringing. Sales targets have to be achieved. Investments have to be recovered in any case, but then there is also the expensive promotion that took 20% of revenues, even before the first product was sold. It had to have a high reach, be attractive enough to not only create an interest, but also a strong desire in the customer to want the product so badly, that she takes immediate action. So what if the message is a ‘bit’ unrealistic !?

One is reminded of leading Indian actor Dharmendra, in the 1970’s hit film ‘Sholay’. Standing atop a water tank, intoxicated enough to be in his own world, he screams at villagers gathered all around, threatening to jump and commit suicide if he is not allowed to marry the village belle. Nothing happens though. Good example of excessively hyped communication, without any intention to deliver on the same. He comes down, once the effect of liquor wears away.

We need to realise what happens when the novelty and excitement wears off after the first hyped up trial !? The fall, obviously, is from the height that had been soared in the flight of imagination. Expectations don’t match. The employee behind the bank counter does not have a smiling face as shown in the advertising. Infact he has no time to listen to your questions, let alone sit and chat with you. So what if your complaint has not been resolved for four days as against a promise of four hours !?

The customer, if she has an option, will not come back. However, making simple commitments and meeting them consistently, creates long term customer relationships. The power generated is so strong that it even obviates the need for loyalty cards, as is the case with a low cost airline in India these days.

I was really very impressed when I recently saw a Professor at a well known management institute, taking a lot of effort to drill in his students the concept of ‘Under Promising and Over Delivering’ ….. Now that is teaching some good values, I thought !!

Small acts of help, being there when needed, genuine love, are enough to build relationships even otherwise in life. Business and Leadership, as a philosophy, are an extension of the fundamental principles of Life itself.

This is not to take any credit for myself here, but I have some of the oldest friends and contacts still intact, from school days and from the first job. I may not have succeeded in every job interview or in every new client presentation. But each job lasted very long, each job gave me a lot of lasting contacts and the clients I got, continue to stay with me for long periods of time. I am extremely grateful to so many of them for being referrals for me as well. Infact that is also a reason why I never felt the need to hype up my promises.

On reflection, I realise that I have never made Big, Unrealistic claims in interviews or in client pitches (this perhaps does make my pitches unattractive to some employers and clients), but with the ones who agreed to have me work with them, I try to meet commitments to the best of my abilities. No tall claims, no big promises ….. Just Plain & Simple ….. trying to help them sincerely and also, consciously never restricting my interaction to just predefined and signed up deliverables only, but ready to go that extra mile to provide optimum satisfaction.

When I decided to set out to be on my own, I went through quite a debate in my mind. I did not want to fall into the trap of big sounding claims. I gave myself the below mission statement for how I wanted to lead the rest of my life, that is, for my Second Act :

“To help organisations and individuals in realising their potential by facilitating through Strategic Consulting &/or Enhancement of their Capabilities  in the areas of Strategy, Marketing/Branding, Leadership, Business Processes and Customer Value Creation.”

You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself ….. Galileo Galilei

While Just Plain & Simple matched my initials, I realised that it also captured my intentions of not making lofty statements, but quietly ‘helping’, working with others and co-evolving solutions. So whether it is ‘Helping Realise Potential’ or ‘Helping Create Customer Value’, JPS Consulting and JPS Customer Value Academy both have ‘help’ as a key element, reflecting my strong belief in the concept. I would rather try and help sincerely, than make big claims to get a job, contacts or clients.

Treat people as they ought to be and help them become what they are capable of being ….. Goethe

Believing that business should serve the common good is one thing, but combining profit with purpose is no easy trick. Mark Albion, an entrepreneur, ex-Harvard Business School Professor and author of ‘True to Yourself : Leading a Values Based Business’, is confident that it’s possible to build a business with social conscience without sacrificing business acumen and financial reward. To learn how, he interviewed 75 leaders of ‘not-only-for-profit’ small businesses. The heart of his instruction : ‘To reach your dreams, you must help other people reach their dreams’.

So Just Plain & Simple it is for me ….. No Tall Claims, No Big Promises ….. Helping Realise Potential & Helping Create Customer Value.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication ….. Leonardo da Vinci !!


Justplainandsimple Consulting Pvt. Ltd.

JPS Consulting

Just Plain & Simple                               

….. Helping Realise Potential

JPS Customer Value Academy

Just Plain & Simple                               

….. Helping Create Customer Value

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10 thoughts on “My Experiments with Customer Service Part V ….. The ‘Just Plain & Simple’ Logic

  1. Nehal (UK)

    I really enjoyed reading this humorous but with ‘a message’ article. I couldn’t agree more with JP that customer services should be at the core of any business rather than making false promises or claims which never existed in the first place!

    I firmly believe that if you go for that ‘extra’ mile, your customer will run a marathon with you. After all “If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will”…

  2. Raj Bhatia

    Interesting JP. reminds me of the oft-heard adage:KISS. Which is Keep It Simple, Stupid!

    I agree under-promising is a great virtue, and not easily found or acquired.



  3. Prashant Welling

    Dear JPS,
    It is a clear yet a brilliant message you are sending across to all of us. It is indeed required in todays day and age to get back to basics and keep it really simple while communicating with the customer.
    If we can effectively communicate our product/ service attributes and try and over deliver on our commitments, I think it will do loads of good to our brand equity in the long run.


    Prashant Welling

  4. Amit Singhal

    Excellent article and how very true ! Being genuine and Just plain & simple brings more credibility than being complex and not being able to come true on your claims.

  5. JP SinghJP Singh Post author

    Dear Sir,

    loved your examples and the analysis of thoseexamples done by you. Similar experiences in Automobiles – e.g Indca ad and the Pulsar stunts ad., however the examples of such superlative communication in automobiles are rather few.



  6. Siddharth Paramhans

    Plain & Simple strategy that I see fit in most walks of life. It should be the way forward. Thanks for sharing this great thought.

    Siddharth Paramhans

  7. vikas puri

    Hi Sir,

    That was thought provoking. The examples really put the thought into perspective.



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