Aspect Software, a provider of contact center solutions, has rolled out a new thought leadership campaign that I consider very impressive. The campaign, which caught my attention in the Wall Street Journal Online, gets in our face and says, “Prove to Your Customers that You Care.”

In the technology section of the Journal, the company’s online ad encourages us to click in order to “get 5 expert opinions that prove it makes good business sense.” What makes good sense? But that’s just it…you have been teased and tickled by the hidden “experts” from the beginning. Wouldn’t you like to know their secret wisdom? Wouldn’t you like to prove you care? Of course you would. Click…

Which brings us to the second web page. That’s where we read: “Your customers know what they want. And they know that they have choices. The onus is on you to prove to them that you care…while making money, too. See what industry experts like McKinsey and Forrester Research say about how you can deliver a better customer experience.”

That’s great copywriting. At this point we are encouraged to download “any of these insightful papers” and the Aspect white paper is lined up visually next to white papers from McKinsey and Forrester. This touch strikes me as particularly brilliant. Those two companies are respected names. By putting its own name (and white paper) next to the other two, Aspect elevates itself and (rightfully) acknowledges itself as an “expert” and thought leader.

Too many companies make the mistake of paying certain analyst firms to take their ideas and write white papers under their own brand. First off, the most credible analyst firms — like Gartner and Forrester — won’t do that crap. They get a majority of their revenues from the buy side of the technology marketplace and aren’t about to play the pay-to-play game. Secondly, companies need to brand their own thought leadership. Aspect does that beautifully in this case.

Anyway, Aspect — like a ventriloquist conjuring the voice of the customer — virtually spray paints the words “We have a Choice” on this page. Damn straight. Aspect is only acknowledging the plain-as-day truth that few others will. Customers always have choices.

At this point, we are invited to download the papers — no registration required. That makes me feel good, respected even. An act of generosity that earns my respect. Click.

However, I learn two clicks in that if I want to get a copy of Aspect’s own “Contact Center Customer Satisfaction” report — one for North America, another for Europe — I must provide my email address. Fair enough. I do. Why not? I’ve already been given free and unencumbered access to three interesting white papers (loaded with intriguing comments and compelling graphics).

In my email box, I will find a link to the report. And I absolutely LOVE the fact that Aspect is doing this kind of research. After all, disciplined research is a factor that raises us up to the “black belt” level in the martial art known as thought leadership. Few companies would ever bother. This shows — no it proves — that Aspect actually cares about customer satisfaction.

On Aspect’s web site, we are greeted with banal customer customer service lines like “Your Call is Important to Us.” These terms are then spray painted over with the term “Prove It.” Spray painting, obviously, is a pretty subversive act. But in this case we see the subversive nature of smart capitalism as one company uses the virtual act to raise questions about the kinds of phony language that corporations use everyday. Aspect is daring companies — taunted them a little, really — to get their act together and stop being so obtuse.

Tremendous concept, tremendous execution. This is thought leadership in action.  “Prove it,” they tell us. They have a right. They’ve delivered proof of their own.