Guest post by Carol Roth, author of the Unsolicited Business Advice blog and The Entrepreneur Equation.

After a recent stay in Vegas (for business, of course…), on the night before check out, I received a letter on my nightstand. I walked over to the full-sized, high-quality parchment and read the first few words:

“Dear Valued Guest”

There isn’t much that could make me feel less valued than the phrase Dear Valued Guest.

The letter went on to thank me for my business and offer a special rate if I wanted to extend my stay, but I couldn’t get past how ridiculous this note was.

Just because you say something, it doesn’t make it true or believable.

If I were a valued guest, the hotel would have taken the extra time to address me by name. Perhaps they would have noted something about my stay – that I had twice dined at a particular restaurant or that I hadn’t visited the spa as I usually do – and tied their offer to my particular actions. But no, they just sent a generic letter and tried to pass it off as something special. This actually had the opposite effect the note was ostensibly trying to achieve.

Businesses have to realize customers aren’t stupid. With all of the choices we have available, we are paying more attention to the details, to service levels, and to companies that walk the talk – as well as those that do not. Just because you say you are the best, that you care about service, or that I am a valued guest does not make it true. You need to show me.

It’s difficult enough to get a customer’s attention these days, but when you have a customer already patronizing your business, it is totally a boneheaded move to drop the ball. Fancy parchment paper isn’t a substitute for real customer engagement – for showing a customer that she is valued instead of just saying it.

With all of the talk about fancy new strategies and tactics for marketing and customer relationships, too many businesses are forgetting that little personal details show that you are willing to go the extra mile. That is what makes someone feel like a special customer, a VIP, or a “Valued Guest.”

Actions speak louder than words in the eyes of a customer.

Carol Roth helps businesses grow and make more money. An investment banker, business strategist, and deal maker, her Unsolicited Business Advice blog was recently named as one of the top 10 small business blogs online. The Entrepreneur Equation, Carol’s book on evaluating the realities, risks, and rewards of business ownership, is due out March.