Last week, I explained that customers aren't interested in your emotions, specifically your enthusiasm.  This doesn't mean you shouldn't be enthusiastic, only that it's a waste of time to communicate it to your customer.

For example, companies frequently begin press releases with "We are excited to announce..."  But customers don't care whether you're excited or not.  Why should they?

Unless they're fresh out of college, customers are more likely to suspect that you're claiming to be "excited" because the announcement itself is boring.  People learn pretty quickly that workplace enthusiasm is frequently fake. 

Similarly, companies and individuals often pad their emails and marketing materials with adjectives like "state-of-the-art," and "industry-leading."  But customers don't care about your high opinion of yourself, your company or your product.

Again, unless they're dimwits, customers know that the amount of self-praise that a company heaps upon itself is inversely proportional to the amount of real praise that they actually deserve.

So, then, if customers don't care about your enthusiasm and customer mistrust your high opinion of yourself, what do they actually want from you?  

Well, when I wrote the post last week, I jotted down a list of five things which (entirely by coincidence, I swear to God) all began with the letter "C".  Here they are:

1. Competence

Because you're drawn from the ranks of successful and aspiring businesspeople, you (the readers of Inc.com) are apt to forget that half of the people (50%) in the world are of below average intelligence.

In the business world, competence is rare.  For every Apple, there are a hundred companies like Intuit, who can't release a stable product.  For every Tesla, there are a hundred Yahoos, who can't execute a simple strategy

When customers see competence, they know they've got a good thing going. To customers, competence means they don't have to worry.  Over time, competence builds long-term trust.  Competence is the ultimate reputation-builder.

2. Commitment

Customers want to feel confident that you will do what you say you'll do  They want you to be committed to their success, even if it means putting your own desires and dreams on hold.

Customers want to know that you'll deliver on your promises even if (when) your enthusiasm flags and you're dragging yourself into work. They want to know beyond all doubt that you will deliver as promised.

3. Creativity

Customers want creative solutions to their problems and creative ways to achieve their goals. They need creativity from you because if the solution or path forward were obvious, they wouldn't be hiring you to help them!

Just to be clear (see #4 below), customers want you to BE creative not TALK about how creative and innovative you are. In fact, the more you talk about how innovative you are, the less customers believe you. 

4. Clarity

Everyone in business today lives in a state of constant information overload.  Much of that information is larded up or tarted up with double-talk, corporate-speak, technical jargon, fake enthusiasm and just plain bad writing.

For customers, clear, simple business messages are like taking a warm shower (followed by a cool glass of Perrier) after spending the day wadding through a polluted swamp.  

5. Common Sense

While competence, commitment, creativity and clarity are rare in the business world, none are so rare or valuable as common sense.  In fact, it is one of the great ironies of life that common sense is uncommon.

Common sense means knowing what's real in the midst of the endless hype of the business world. Common sense is the ability to do the right thing at the right time in the right place.

Show your customer--any customer--that you possess all five of the above characteristics, and you've got a customer for life.