Respect: A Pillar of Customer Service

Some of you will not recognize the name Rodney Dangerfield, who was one of the funniest comedians of his time, if not all time. He passed away in 2004. (For those who aren’t familiar with Dangerfield, go to YouTube and search for his name, but only if you want to smile and laugh. And just a warning, some of his comedy club material is R-rated.)  

Dangerfield had a signature line: I don’t get no respect. For example, “I don’t get no respect …  

… When I was a kid, I played hide-and-seek. They wouldn’t even look for me. 

… When I was a kid, my parents moved a lot, but I always found them. 

… When I was a kid, I was so ugly my parents had to hang a pork chop around my neck to get the dog to play with me. 

That was fun, but it’s time to get serious. I was recently asked about the Pillars of Customer Service. Specifically, I was asked what I thought was the most important pillar.  

First, there are many “Pillars” of customer service, and if you do a little research, you’ll find articles by experts and examples from companies’ vision statements. As I thought of many of these, one immediately came to mind as an overarching important pillar:

“Respect the Customer.” 

It may seem obvious that we should respect our customers. After all, without them, we don’t have a business. So, with that in mind, here are three of my favorite stats and findings about customer respect from my annual customer service research:   

  • 61% of customers don’t think companies or brands respect their time! Ouch! This is because customers don’t like to wait on hold for long periods of time, or anything else that seems like a waste of their precious time. And speaking of making customers wait on hold … 
  • 51% of customers are likely or very likely to switch companies or leave a brand because they had to wait too long on hold. It’s impossible to never make a customer hold. And, the concept of “too long” is different from one customer to the next. However, to mitigate the appearance of disrespect, at least let your customers know how long they will have to wait, and even better, give them the option of being called back.  
  • 60% of customers are likely or very likely to switch companies or leave a brand because the company didn’t respond fast enough. This goes back to respecting your customers’ time. How long do they have to wait for a response?  

While these findings focus on respecting the customer’s time, there are many other areas and opportunities to show respect to your customers. So, sit down with your team and discuss the answer to this simple question: Do you show your customers respect?

Related: Balancing Leadership and Customer Service: Navigating the Tension