Lying to Your Customers

I freelance, and I work from home. A lot of people work from home these days, and many try to hide that fact, putting on an image that’s bigger than they are by using a variety of techniques, such as continually referring to your company as “we” when there’s really only an “I”. Now, there’s image-building, and then there’s lying to your customers. When I was more directly engaged in consulting on marketing efforts for websites and so forth, I used to tell people straight out, “don’t lie to your customers.” It’s my contention that this is generally bad business practice… isn’t it axiomatic that you’ll end up building lies to maintain the one you started out with? That’s what I first thought when I read that fake office noise boosts credibility, and now you can buy a soundtrack with background noise so people think you’re in an office. I guess you’re supposed to hit the “play” button before you answer the phone each time, because the lack of office noise is one of the main benefits of working at home in the first place.

I suppose this is the new version of “fake it ’till you make it,” a strategy of which I’m not a fan. If you can’t be credible working from home, then the general trend nowadays is that a lot less people are credible, and some that are must find themselves wishing they weren’t. I don’t buy it. We’ve become accustomed to calling people on their mobile numbers and finding them stuck in traffic, on an elevator, in a restaurant, and yes, sitting at home on the back deck. If they weren’t available for a business call, they wouldn’t answer, so we’re no longer disturbing them if they’re at home. I take business calls on my mobile number, and if the location is noisy, I just move, whether it’s the kids or whether the squirrel in my back yard won’t stop chattering, I can always retreat to the study for the sake of courtesy… nobody really wants to hear that background noise either.  But still, why try to hide the fact you work at home?  Check your motivations on this one to be sure they’re sound.

Again I say, don’t lie to your customers. When they eventually find out you work at home, they can only wonder what else you lied about. You don’t have to lead with the information, but don’t hide it, it’ll only come back to haunt you in the end.