We’ve learned everything there is to know about acting hospitable, establishing comfort, building trust, anticipating needs, communicating messages, creating memories, fixing problems, managing interactions, exceeding expectations, collecting feedback, extending generosity and earning loyalty.
But when the tables are turned, when we’re the ones being served, we suck.
Entitlement trumps respect, impatience trumps appreciation, rudeness trumps understanding and greed trumps civility. Who has time to be a good customer? Just fix it for me. Just bring it to me. Just do what I say. I’m a very busy man and I haven’t got all day. I am the customer, and you are here to serve me.
This has got to stop.
The minute we become customers, we have a certain set of responsibilities:
Pay those who serve you. Instead of trying to a squeeze out a deal, honor their market value, pay them what they’re worth and let them do their work. That way, you’ll get the best possible result.
Inform those who serve you. Instead of doing everything your way, give them the information they need, the way they want it, when they ask for it. That way, you make their job easier.
Educate those who serve you. Instead of expecting them to read your mind, give them your expectations, make your needs clear and your intentions obvious. That way, you won’t be surprised by the result.
Trust those who serve you. Instead of buying a dog and barking for it, give them your idea, let them run with it and meet them on the finish line later. That way, you give them autonomy to do what you hired them to do.
Protect those who serve you. Instead of draining resources and wasting time, make up your mind, own your decisions and respect the implications of those decisions. That way, they can just get on with the job.
Liberate those who serve you. Instead of arguing about what’s possible, respect whatever hiccups in the system arise, let them do their job and understand that they probably know the best solution. That way, nobody has to get upset.
Thank those who serve you. Instead of getting what you want and getting on with your life, give people three seconds of your time, look them in the eye and show them genuine appreciation. That way, they’ll know the work they do, matters.
Highlight those who serve you. Instead of rendering people anonymous, be a stand for their greatness by praising them in front of those who matter. That way, they’ll receive the recognition they deserve.
That’s how to be a good customer.
And the key is, we don’t do it to get better service. We don’t do it to run up the numbers on the karmic scoreboard. We do it because it’s the right thing to do. It’s the right way to treat people.
Be the customer you’d want to have.
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That Guy with the Nametag
Writing, Publishing, Performing, Consulting
My job is to help companies make their mission more than a statement, using limited edition social artifacts.
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