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Treat Your Customers with Respect

Treat Your Customers with Respect

“Customers may forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.”


So many businesses just do not seem to respect their customers. Some of the common issues I see that tell me this are when businesses leave an open sign in the window when they are closed and do not return a customer’s call. Both of these things are clear indicators the business really does not respect its customers.

I cannot tell you how many times I have called a business to never have that call returned. In one such case, when I was looking for a new internet service provider, I called three or four firms and left messages that were never returned. I am sure whoever checked the voicemail figured they were either not a good fit for me or too busy to respond. Regardless, they lost a customer. I just do not like dealing with firms that do not respect their customers.

One of my biggest gripes is calling a business and hearing a recording that says, “Sorry we could not take your call, but our call volume is higher than expected.” I feel like this happens often, and what I hear is, “We screwed up and did not have enough staff in place.” Or worse yet, “We are choosing to provide less customer service in order to save money.”

Then, there is the message that says, “Sorry we could not answer your call. Please call back when we are less busy.” This is among the worst messages of all time. The first time I heard it, I wanted to scream at my phone. This is just a terrible way to treat a customer.

Another example of a terrible voicemail message is one that says it is quicker to check the help pages on their website. Though this works sometimes, there are times I have been unable to find the answer to my questions online.

Bottom line is you must treat all customers with respect. If you do not, your competitors will.

So how do you treat your customers with respect? The answer is quite simple: ask yourself how you would feel if something happened to you. If it gives you a bad feeling, it should be avoided in your customer service environment. Another thing you can do is have focus groups review your materials and provide honest feedback.

Whatever you do, you must think like a customer if you are to show respect for them.

Now go out and evaluate your customer service to ensure you are always showing respect for your customer. If some policy or procedure does not, change it.

You can do this!

Published: June 10, 2016

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Jerry Osteryoung

Jerry Osteryoung is a consultant to businesses—he has directly assisted over 3,000 firms. He is the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship (Emeritus) and Professor of Finance (Emeritus) at Florida State University. He was the founding Executive Director of the Jim Moran Institute and served in that position from 1995 through 2008. His latest book, coauthored with Tim O’Brien, “If You Have Employees, You Really Need This Book,” is a bestseller on Amazon. Email Jerry @ jerry.osteryoung@gmail.com

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