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The Polite Society: Be a Nice Customer

Respect Customer service is usually about the people who work at a company being polite to the customer. But how about the customer being polite to the employee? Be nice and maybe you’ll get nice back. So, this article is from the perspective of the customer. No doubt that a squeaky wheel gets the oil. […]

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Customer service is usually about the people who work at a company being polite to the customer. But how about the customer being polite to the employee? Be nice and maybe you’ll get nice back.

So, this article is from the perspective of the customer.

No doubt that a squeaky wheel gets the oil. For those that aren’t familiar with this old saying, it basically means if you are loud enough, you’ll get noticed. To put it in business terms, if you feel you’re not getting the customer service you think you deserve, stomp your feet up and down and you might get what you want. Sounds like a good plan, but there may be a better way.

There is another old saying:

You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Being nice to the people serving you may beget nice customer service in return. If you don’t believe me, try it. It’s the right thing to do anyway.

The catching flies with honey concept comes to life in a couple of amazing examples I read about in an excellent article in Trendwatching. Companies will reward you for being nice and polite to their people and the other customers around you.

Last year McDonald’s and Coca-Cola got together for a special promotion that rewarded diners for not using their cell phones. I don’t mind someone using their phone in a public area if they are discreet and respectful of others. The idea of rewarding a customer for their good behavior intrigues me. The promotion encouraged customers to take a “timeout” from talking, tweeting, Facebooking and texting. The longer you stayed in “timeout,” the more points you receive. Participants could win prizes, including a free trip.

I can’t vouch for the success of the app, but the premise is sound. Just the other day I was at the grocery store and standing in the checkout lane. The person in front of me was on her phone. She was loud and showed little respect for the people around her; specifically the cashier who had to wait to catch the customer’s attention to pay for her groceries.

In that same Trendwatching article, there was another excellent example. La Petite Syrah, a French café, had a pricing policy based on politeness. The customers who were kind to the barista and used the word “please” were charged less than those who weren’t so polite. The two prices were posted on their menu board. A cup of coffee for the polite customer cost EUR 1.40 versus EUR 7. That’s an 80% discount, just for being nice. Sign me up for that one!

Here’s the point of this article: Respect.

As a person, respect the people around you. As a customer, respect the people you do business with. They just may give it back to you, and sometimes even more so. Dealing with someone having a bad day? Smile. Be polite. Be the nice customer that’s easy to do business with, that potentially can make that bad day a little better. Then, watch how you’re treated.

Shep Hyken is a customer service/CX expert, award-winning keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling author. Learn more about Shep’s customer service and customer experience keynote speeches and his customer service training workshops at www.Hyken.com. Connect with Shep on LinkedIn.

(Copyright © MMXV, Shep Hyken)

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