How to Treat Customers: With Respect | Karate kids

How to Treat Customers: With Respect

How to Treat Customers: With Respect | Karate kids

You don’t have to be a customer service expert to know that respect is an immensely important part of customer service. In fact, we consider respect a cornerstone of any customer service philosophy, and we include “being disrespected” as one of our 7 Service Triggers, the seven customer service hot buttons that are guaranteed to ruin a customer experience.

The Challenge of Treating Customers with Respect

The catch with respect is that it is a highly individualized concept that can be hard to pin down. This passage from Be Your Customer’s Hero gives an idea of the challenge:

“Respect. It could be one of the most important and at the same time one of the most meaningless words in the English language. Obviously, the concept of respect is extremely important to customer service. If a customer feels disrespected by you or someone in your organization, almost nothing you do will matter until her feelings about being disrespected are addressed. Yet despite the importance of the concept of respect, the word borders on having no meaning at all. We know what it means generally, but each person’s concept of respect is so individual and varies so wildly from the next person’s that it makes it virtually impossible to nail down a firm framework for respecting customers.”

The Importance of Treating Customers with Respect

While we’ve been speaking and teaching the 7 Service Triggers since November 2013, we decided to conduct some original consumer research around the 7 Service Triggers to accompany the launch of our new online customer service course later this week:

The Customer Service Course You Didn’t Know You Need:
Use the Power of the 7 Service Triggers to Avoid Annoying, Frustrating, and Angering Your Customers

We surveyed 1,000 consumers about various aspects of the service triggers, and here’s what we found. Of all the 7 Service Triggers …

  • #1: Being ignored
  • #2: Being abandoned
  • #3: Being hassled
  • #4: Being faced with incompetence
  • #5: Being shuffled
  • #
6: Being powerless
  • #7: Being disrespected

… when we asked consumers, which trigger they would consider a “hot button,” the one most likely to upset them, 50% chose Service Trigger #7: Being Disrespected — meaning, on an emotional level, disrespect was as important as all of the other triggers combined.

Even worse, 75% of respondents said that they were not likely to do business with the organization again if they felt disrespected by an employee or the organization. The next 20% were noncommittal in their responses, making the picture even bleaker.

75% say they're not likely to do business with an org again if they feel disrespected. Click To Tweet

Obviously, we know that respect is an important concept, and these numbers show just how important it is.

How Can You Ensure Customers Feel Respected

As noted in the first section, the individual nature of disrespect makes it particularly challenging to preempt— you never really know what someone will take as disrespectful—so the easiest way to prevent the disrespect trigger from being pulled is to play the odds: Do the things that are likely to make most people feel respected.

In general, that means using core customer service ideas such as…

  • Saying “Please” and “Thank You”
  • Making Eye Contact
  • Listening Actively
  • Displaying Open Body Language
  • Using “Sir” and “Ma’am”
In #custserv, the basics of courtesy and professionalism are the building blocks of respect. Click To Tweet

Of course, this list only scratches the surface; knowing what actions and communication each customer personally takes as respect or disrespect is the ultimate (if never fully achievable) goal.

However, if you start with the basics and making sure your staff is trained to be aware of the importance of respect to customers, you and your organization will be off to a great start.

For more information on the Service Triggers and what to do once a customer already feels disrespected, make sure to check out our new course launching Thursday:

The Customer Service Course You Didn’t Know You Need:
Use the Power of the 7 Service Triggers to Avoid Annoying, Frustrating, and Angering Your Customers


By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.

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