Every expert is the world of sales, marketing, and customer service loves to preach to us and tell us that we all need to be more “authentic” in today’s business world.

Let’s talk about that for a moment.

Last week I told you about my stay at the Shangri-La Hotel and the case of the 1-ply toilet paper. It wasn’t until later that day that something else happened that should have surprised me – but it didn’t.

When I finished the Evergreen Summit, I realized that I’d left my wedding band next to the shower in the hotel. Frantically, I quickly called the hotel where I was transferred to Lost & Found.

The person on the phone quickly told me that nothing had been found.

Here is the exchange that followed:

Them: “Nothing was found in the room. We have no rings in Lost & Found.”

Me: “I know, but I can tell you exactly where I put it in the room if you’re willing to check again. Do you think they can check one more time? Perhaps they missed it.”

Them: “Well, as I already told you the room was already cleaned, and we’ve got nothing here in lost & found.”

Me: “Would you be willing to let me take a look in the room, as I know exactly where I put it? Or, can you send someone up right now to take a peek. There’ a good chance it was missed. It’s a small ring sitting on a small ledge.”

Them: “No, I’m sorry. We can’t tell you if the room was re-booked or let you back into the room to look. We can only tell that housekeeping cleaned the room today, and nothing was found.”

Now here’s the most important part.

Me: “Will you call me if it’s found?”

Them: “No, since we already cleaned the room and nothing was found.”

I asked the question on Twitter the other day – is there ever a time when lying in customer service is appropriate? I got a variety of responses. A few people started throwing around the “authenticity” buzzword.

Talk about an authentic response. This was as authentic as it gets, no doubt about it.

In this case, the customer service rep should have lied.

“Absolutely Mr. Fleming, we’ll contact you right away if we find the ring.”

“Of course Mr. Fleming, we’ll check the room right away. Do you mind holding for a moment?”

Remember the big lesson from last week: The better you are in most areas, the harder it is to be less than average in the areas that matter most.

Now of course, she shouldn’t have actually lied. Here’re a few reasons why:

1) Your actions throughout your company need to be congruent with the promises made in your sales and marketing efforts.*

2) The sale is never closed. Even after the customer is long gone, we have to ensure our levels of service remain the same. When you think about the buying loop™, even a great experience can be ruined by a poor ending. We usually aren’t paying close enough attentions to the endings.

3) Authenticity wasn’t the real problem here. This is a character issue. It’s an issue of employees not understanding the core values of the company they work for and the promises being made.

So let’s cut the crap about authenticity.

The good news is that it’s all fixable.

The bad news is that stuff like this costs companies hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions of dollars each year. Maybe even yours.

Here’s the key challenge for you today:

Write down the three highest compliments and words of praise you’d like to hear from your clients and customers, then figure out what you can and should be doing to ensure you’re GETTING those compliments.

And if you’re not getting them, ask yourself the next following question:

Do you know if there are things going on elsewhere in your organization that are negating everything else you’ve done to create those positive experiences?

If you don’t know, you should know.

Scratch that, you need to know.