My father is a retired Colonel in the U.S. Air Force. He has a PhD in philosophy and taught at the Air Force Academy most of my childhood. He taught morality and ethics and spent his free time teaching it to me and my two brothers. A Code of Ethics is branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality. Our family had a particular code of ethics that we were expected to abide by.
Today, as a business owner of a productivity training firm for over 20 years, our staff also follows a code of ethics, which are seven protocols that govern the way we treat our customers. This code is an integral part of our company values, so it helps us to be consistent in how we respond to customer service situations.
1. We Are Here Because of Our Customers.
The customer must always come first. One happy customer may tell a few people about their service experience; however, the unhappy ones will tell everyone in their circles (it’s a small world with social media). Some research estimates that it takes twelve positive service incidences just to make up for one negative incident.
2. We Understand Our Customers Are Our Future.
Even the world’s most successful companies can’t take survival for granted. When your customers needs change, change to meet those needs. Abandon the status quo and push beyond your comfort zone. And be grateful that your customer base changes—because stagnation leads to death (e.g., Borders Bookstore).
3. We Treat Customers Like Family.
Don’t see your customers as walking wallets; make them feel special. Learn to love them, because they’re the ones who keep your company alive. Build rapport. Be fully present when you’re with them. Learn their special dates, so you can send cards or say Happy Birthday. Take notes on their families and hobbies. They’ll be very grateful for your concern—and that gratitude will translate to profit.
4. We Always Listen to Our Customers.
We listen when they are happy, dissatisfied, or say nothing. We always ask about service quality so we can do better next time. Pay attention to their needs; make a special effort to hear what they’re saying. Don’t just go on autopilot. Focus on them and give them all of your attention, proving they’re important to you. The biggest reason people leave a company is because they sense the company doesn’t care about them anymore. Never let that happen. Make them so happy they sing your praises, drawing in others.
5. We Work Hard to Solve Any Problems.
When a customer has a problem, you have a problem. Don’t let yourself be satisfied until they are; give 110 percent to settle their problem, so you can retain their business. Most customers will do business with you again if you fix their problem; it’s even better if you fix it on the spot. They want to feel important, and they want you to be fully prepared to help them.
6. We Maintain Positive Attitudes.
Even with difficult customers, keep your attitude relentlessly positive. The smile on your face and the tone of your voice can make a huge difference. Accept that even if their experience is perfect, they probably won’t comment on it, because they expect perfection. And remember, their attitudes will change over time. What was once good enough may become unsatisfactory if they encounter something better. So give them that something better—and do it with a smile. All it takes is one indifferent employee to kill your business.
7. We All Impact Customer Service.
Everyone in your company, no matter how minor, impacts customer service. I once visited a neighborhood restaurant where the service was great and the food was wonderful. I had a great time—until I felt a wad of chewing gum on the underside of the table, which completely killed the experience for me. I didn’t go back there, despite the otherwise wonderful atmosphere. The cleaning crew had let everyone down. Little things and small actions can stick in the customer’s mind, damaging their experience.
Embrace and believe in this code and you’ll have a better chance of surviving the changes that constantly wash through the business environment.