Monday, May 29, 2006

Are we getting ruder?

I looked through an interesting book this weekend, by a bestselling author who makes the case that society is rude and getting ruder. She paints a picture of a world where people can’t say “please” or “thank you”, don’t apologize for anything, and drop f-bombs at will.

It’s a funny book, and I enjoyed reading it. But I don’t agree with her.

Do rude people and bad service experiences still exist nowadays? Of course they do. They have since the dawn of time, and every single one of us can rattle off a few choice examples of our own. But think critically: what is your typical, everyday experience with most people you encounter with your bank, your grocery store, or out in public? I’ll wager that if you show these people at least a modicum of respect, most of them probably treat you professionally and courteously.

Unlike this author, I’ve managed large service operations and trained thousands of service employees, and one thing is clear: when you teach people how to handle customer situations, and reinforce it with positive coaching, most quote-unquote average people soon develop fantastic customer skills. Reacting with class in customer situations – where, even on a good day, people are constantly challenging you – is a skill that anyone can learn if they are taught the proper techniques.

Statistics actually bear me out on this point. Metrics like the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) have actually been trending upwards over the past few years, and leading companies continue to leverage the “science” of good service to build their market share. If you call Southwest Airlines to book a plane reservation, check on your package with FedEx, or return a shirt to Lands’ End, it is highly unlikely that anyone will act disengaged or utter the F-word – and companies like these take their service training and workplace cultures all the way to the bank. Meanwhile, Darwinism continues to weed out the ruder siblings of these businesses, as they keep learning that it is hard to run a business without any customers.

One last point: find me a place where employees don’t respect their customers, and I will bet you lunch that it is also a place where management doesn’t respect their employees. In my experience, it’s really simple – with respect, communications skills training, and coaching, the world is suddenly not such a rude place after all.


As you can see, these blog entries are back, which can only mean one thing - my new book Great Customer Connections has now been released by AMACOM, and is available everywhere! GCC is unlike any other customer service book ever published, in that it teaches specific communications skills, based on known principles of behavioral psychology, that have dramatically changed the service quality of many of America's leading organizations.

To celebrate, for a limited time I am offering a free electronic business library, including some of my past nationally-published books, if you purchase Great Customer Connections at (it's easy - click here) and then send an e-mail to I_BOUGHT_IT -at- (If you aren't a spambot, you probably already know to replace the " -at- " with the requisite symbol. :) Thank you and enjoy the book!

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