Friday, July 8, 2011

KeFactors Friday: The Dignity Domino

Security expert Gavin De Becker first introduced this term in his 1997 book, The Gift of Fear, urging employers to “prop up with courtesy and understanding” that bit of personal dignity in each employee, especially ones facing termination.

Young, broke, and eager to master his writing, John Steinbeck considered his options with a teacher’s advice to live in Europe: “Over there poverty is considered a misfortune. Here in America it’s considered shameful.”

Through no fault of our own, this recession has put a great many of us into a valley of shame—lengthy unemployment, debt, collections, notice of insufficient funds, foreclosure—all the scary harbingers of personal ruin.

As this economy slowly turns around, more and more I get called to speak on matters involving workplace civility and dealing effectively with difficult customers. No surprise. As pressures mount, people are finding it harder to maintain calm, patience, and understanding; they’re knotted up with fear—fear of foreclosure, fear of collections, fear of losing their jobs.

There’s nothing revolutionary about providing superior customer service during a slow economic recovery. It’s simple.
  • Protect your customer’s dignity domino.
  • Don’t embarrass the customer in front of others.
  • No matter how sacred your policies are, don’t embarrass the customer in front of their own children (or employees). Recall the grocery scene from the old movie, “Terms of Endearment,” when a rude checkout clerk yells across the store, “She doesn’t have enough money!” — much to a young mother’s humiliation and to her children’s mortification.
  • Emphasize that you’re aiming for a long-term relationship. How would you feel about remaining loyal to someone who throws you overboard at the first sign of trouble?
  • Don’t let your competitors beat you to it, in simply being kinder and more understanding to your customers. As a recent car commercial said, “This isn’t over for any of us until it’s over for all of us.” Until it ends, we’ll need to help each other, especially if we want to count on customer loyalties when households start to experience “disposable income.” They may condemn ruined buildings but the human spirit is strong, and people always, always, always remember how they were treated.

No comments: