The Golden Rule is Stupid

The Golden Rule is Stupid

Obvious clickbait title notwithstanding, allow me to explain. As a customer or client we usually don’t have high expectations. Most people are happy to accept average service. For example look to your favorite casual sit down restaurant. Drinks? Check. Food decent? Check. Server that doesn’t hate you? Check. Hello 5 star google review.  But is ‘average’ going to set you apart? Will that help you succeed?

The short answer is, I hope obviously, no. The longer answer is a little more complicated.

Being better than just average

First thing to do: change the perspective. Instead of treating your customers through the lens of how you want to be treated, treat them better. It’s hard and a little strange. The idea that we treat everyone like we want to be treated has been ingrained in most of our brains since we were in diapers. But the only way we can improve is by adding something to the equation. Call it whatever you want, our ‘competitive’ advantage, our ‘differentiation’, or make up some new word. The point is that you need to be adding more to equation. Most people can do average, that’s what makes it average, only a few people can do better.

What is better?

The biggest issue we see clients facing when we present them with this concept is that they already think they’re being ‘better’ or that they’re at least better than their competition. Most of the time they’re not. So how do you find the things you can do better? Observe and learn. Watch your customers and figure out what they’re struggling with or having difficulties with. Then look at other industries to see how you can apply it to your company. Look at hotels and high end restaurants. Ones that NEED to differentiate through hospitality in order to set themselves apart. You might find that the same things they’re using are the same things you can use and very likely be the same things that your customers are already wanting.

Example?

Let’s take a service industry example. Plumbers, HVAC, electricians, roofers, etc. Your business provides a service that is usually not something that’s convenient. When your heating goes out or your sink springs a leak you’re in a hurry to rectify the problem. Most companies in these industries charge after hours/on-call fees to get a tech to your house. Your sink is spewing water throughout the kitchen at 3 am because you tripped and fell on it, you grab your phone, google a plumber, find one’s website, and see a $199 ‘after hours’ fee that’s in addition to the normal service fee and the cost of the repair you know is needed. What are you telling your customers? Your telling them that their particular emergency is inconvenient because it didn’t happen between 9am and 5pm.

Obviously that’s how you would feel as the person who created the policy, it’s after hours, my tech needs paid to get to the home, it costs overtime and has some risk associated with it. If it were me, I’d just shut the water off and wait until morning to find a contractor to get this fixed. But what if you treat them better? There’s many paths to rectify the issue and not every option is right for every business. But know that if you do better, their horror ‘my sink broke in the middle of the night and flooded my bathroom’ story becomes a positive story they tell their friends. Guess who’s business gets mentioned every single time they tell it?

The only way that happens is if you stop treating your customers like you want to (or expect to) be treated and start treating them better.