The New Golden Rule


Share on LinkedIn

I first learnt this from Ken Pasternak.

We’re always told to treat customers as we would want to be treated. It comes from one of those fundamentals of life, the classic Golden Rule.

The Golden Rule is ‘Do as you would be done by’ or, in the Christian tradition ‘Do unto others…’. Every major religion has an equivalent at its heart, saying treat others as you want to be treated yourself.

But it needs updating when it comes to creating a customer experience and serving customers. You need to treat customers as THEY want to be treated, not as you would like. There are universal basics about how people should treat each other, yes, of course. But beyond the basics of politeness, attentiveness, friendliness, efficiency, etc you need to discern what the customer wants and how they want it.

So, the golden rule isn’t ‘Do as you would be done by.’ It’s ‘Do unto others as they would like to be done unto’.

One example might be encouraging real dialog (or ‘dialogue’ if you are in the UK) with customers instead of the ritual exchanges that mostly happen with the front line. In a restaurant, how many times have we all experienced the server coming back and asking “Everything OK over here?” or “How was your meal?” 99% of the time, the answer is ‘fine, thanks’ just to get rid of the intrusion into your meal.

These ritualistic exchanges serve no purpose. Instead, you should get your people to ask questions that matter and that help to put the new Golden Rule into practice. For example, Ken Blanchard says that at the end of the meal: “What is the one thing we could have done to make your experience here more enjoyable for you?” is a far more useful question than “How was your meal?”

Phil Dourado

Phil Dourado
Author, Speaker, Independent Consultant
Founding editor of Customer Service Management Journal in the United States, and of its companion title, Customer Service Management Journal (now rebranded as Customer Management Magazine) in the United Kingdom. He is the author of The 6 Second Leader (Capstone, John Wiley & Sons, 27).


  1. In their book The Art of Connecting, Claire and Lara talk about the Titanium Rule – Do unto others according to their druthers.

    Empathy is always a powerful relationship-builder.

    Daryl Choy
    Make Little Things Count


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here