David FullerLast week, I didn’t write an article. I could give you all the excuses in the world. I was travelling, I had meetings, my dog was eating my printer paper. They’re all true, but the real reason is I had a man cold and just couldn’t write.

Outside of holidays, it was just the second time I missed filing my column in two years. I think I’ve been pretty consistent – I would say I’ve been pretty successful in delivering the goods.

But what does consistency have to do with success?

Two words are probably more related to how successful we are in life and business than any others in the English dictionary: consistency and congruency.

Consistency means that people can rely on us. If we say we’re going to do something, we do it. We say we’re going to have product or deliver a service, we have that product for our customers. And we deliver that reliable level of service every time they ask for it.

If we tell our clients – or our kids, for that matter – that we will be somewhere at a certain time every day or every week, we need to be there. That’s consistency.

Great businesses are built on delivering consistency. Consistency of product, consistency of quality, consistency of service. When we know what we can expect from a company, we can make plans because we know we’re dealing with people we can trust.

Inconsistencies ruin businesses. Great quality or service one day followed by shoddy workmanship or unreliable service frustrates our customers and drives them to our competitors.

At least if we were consistent in our poor workmanship or maybe our service wasn’t the best but it was reliable, people could understand that and work around it. But most people can’t deal with inconsistency. Our customers want to be able to rely on us.

Congruency means that we’re true to our word. It means that if we tell our customers or our employees that we value something – the environment, family, community – we prove it by our actions.

In business, congruency is important because our customers want to be able to trust us. They want to know that if we say something, we mean it. If we tell them that we value them as customers but never follow up with them, we’re incongruent in our actions.

If we say we care for people yet they see us berating them, humiliating them or putting profits first, they’re going to wonder how we’ll treat them as customers in spite of our claims that we put customers first.

When we’re not true to our word, when we’re not congruent in our actions, people see through us for what we are. And we should feel ashamed. This is a hard place to be in business and in life.

When our values are in alignment and we’re congruent in our words and actions, we can stand tall. We can be proud because we’re honourable. In many societies, honour is everything. In business, it should be given more prominence.

When customers know that we’re going to be consistent or reliable, and congruent or true to our word, they want to do business with us.

It might take time for them to develop this trust and dependence on us to serve their needs, but with consistency in service and considerate, innovative marketing, we’ll gain lifetime customers.

Troy Media columnist David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy.

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