Are you disrespecting your customers and your employees?


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Based on the Gallup World Poll, a huge study of over 800 thousand people across 158 countries, Weiting Ng of SIM University in Singapore and Ed Diener of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently published a paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology called: What matters to the rich and the poor? Subjective well-being, financial satisfaction, and post-materialist needs across the world.

I discovered this piece of research via a brief article in the Harvard Business Review called: What Matters Most to Positive Feelings? R-E-S-P-E-C-T. According to the write up, the authors found that

“among the non-material personal needs of respect, autonomy, and social support, respect is the strongest predictor of positive feelings.”

Given that the generation of positive feelings is central to keeping and growing a customer base, I found myself wondering if we could learn any lessons from this research and apply them to customer service and customer experience.

But, before we can do this we need to ask: What is respect?

Well, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, respect is defined as:

a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.

a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way

a particular way of thinking about or looking at something

Now, if we take these definitions and ask ourselves what this means in customer service or customer experience terms, does it mean that:

  • We keep our promises?
  • We are polite?
  • We see all of our customers as important and valuable to the success of our business?
  • We talk to and really listen to our customers and our employees?
  • We treat our customers and employees well?
  • When a mistake has been made and our customers are angry, we make sure that they are heard?
  • We give the same deals to existing customers as well as new customers?
  • We don’t waste anybody’s time?
  • We give existing customers the same level of service and attention as we do new customers?
  • We keep everyone informed about what we have said, agreed and then we keep them updated on progress, results and next steps?
  • We do what we say we are going to do when we say we are going to do it?
  • etc

Do those questions cover what respect could mean in a customer service or customer experience context? Are there more questions?

Personally, I believe there are probably more questions and that these questions will differ and depend on the business that you are in.

However, I believe asking what respect means in our own context is important, should be understood and think there is value in ‘hard-baking’ respect into organisational behaviours and culture.

But, how can we do this?

First, given that we know that there is often a difference between what we think of our customer experience and what a customer thinks, organisations should consider conducting a Respect Audit, where they ask their customers and their employees if they think they are respected. Doing so, would give a firm a clear indication of the gaps that exist and the work that needs to be done to generate the respect and positive feelings (that we all want) amongst our customers and employees.

Secondly, S. Chris Edmonds, author of a recently published book: The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace, thinks that every organisation could benefit from implementing an organisational constitution. This framework could help formalise the sort of values and behaviours that are necessary embed respect into an organisation’s DNA and can help underpin future success. Moreover, Chris’s research and experience shows that firms that have implemented a organisational constitution have seen uplifts of 40+% in customer satisfaction and employee engagement and increases in profitability 35% or more.

What’s not to like?

This post originally appeared on my Forbes column here.
Photo Credit: Insane Focus via Compfight cc

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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