If you experienced any religious or moral training as a child, you may recall reciting the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
For many North Americans, the Golden Rule is remembered as a Christian teaching from the words of Jesus. But the Golden Rule is found in more than 21 world religions. The founders and teachers of Sikhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, the Baha’i faith, Islam, Judaism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and many more used the Golden Rule in their teachings. And for many centuries the idea has been important in many cultures.
So how does the Golden Rule apply to the question “What is good customer service?” Plain and simple, the Golden Rule is the best yardstick for anyone working in customer service. Whether you are training individuals for customer service or you have your own customer service job, the Golden Rule reigns supreme. Why?
The Golden Rule creates dependability and consistency. It is your guide to ensuring that you or your customer service agents, act fairly and considerately toward others on a regular basis.
Customer service is not an easy job. It is often a low-pay, high-stress occupation. You spend the majority of your time with people who feel they have been wronged, misled or even cheated. And they express their frustration with anger, impatience, rudeness and on odd occasions, even violence. Furthermore, customers flooded with charged emotions, often make customer service representatives the objects of their wrath.
So “hats off” to customer service representatives. This small accolade alone will not cure your workplace blues, but working the Golden Rule will.
Here is a good example:
You have just received a call from a customer who has been waiting on hold for more than an hour. The customer is angry.
- Customer Service Agent: “Hello, how can I help you today?”
- Customer: “Well, you could have started an hour ago by picking up the *#&%@$$! phone! I’ve been waiting on hold for over an hour!”
Okay, time out…
If the customer service agent reacts without the Golden Rule, you might hear a response like:
- “Relax sir!”
- “Sir, that type of language will not be tolerated!”
- “I beg your pardon!”
Although these comments might be necessary, they only function as agitators.
Now if the customer service agent applies the Golden Rule to communication and thinks before she speaks, she will be asking herself questions like this:
- What would have to happen to me for me to use such forceful language?
- How would I respond if I had been on hold for the last hour?
- What would I want a customer service agent to say to me after I had been waiting on hold for an entire hour?
After she applies the Golden Rule, she is bound to respond more like this:
- “Sir, I am so sorry that you have been waiting that long. How can I help you now?”
- “Sir, that’s terrible. I know how it feels to wait on hold that long. I am sorry. I am ready to help you now.”
President John F. Kennedy appealed to the Golden Rule in an anti-segregation speech at the time of the first black enrollment at the University of Alabama in 1963. He asked whites to consider what it would be like to be treated as second-class citizens because of skin color.
Whites were to imagine themselves being black and being told that they couldn’t vote, or go to the best public schools, or eat at most public restaurants, or sit in the front of the bus. Would whites be content to be treated that way? He was sure that they wouldn’t, and yet this is how they treated others.
Kennedy said, “The heart of the question is…are we going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated?”
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Write it in your work space, pin it behind the customer service counter or wear it on your wrist; it will make you a better person and the best kind of customer service employee around.