personal service vs. lip service

Rarely does Ben Stein write something that I don’t agree with and really appreciate — his column in this past Sunday’s NY Times is no exception.  The piece, Don’t Blame the Business Trip, is a much-needed counterpoint to the criticism that business travel has garnered in recent months.

Ben explains, “The personal touch, the sharing of facts and secrets face to face, are important.”  Although the court of public opinion may judge business meetings as an extravagance, those of us who make it a priority to meet with our customers and colleagues in person know personal meetings are critical.  Companies should not let bitter, snarky armchair judges dictate travel policy.

Remember the 1989 United Airlines ad which starts off with a boss announcing to his staff that they have just lost a major long-time client, “He said he didn’t know us anymore“?

The ad’s closing line says it all, “If you’re the kind of business that believes personal service beats lip service…

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