A while ago I heard an interview with Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at MIT. During the interview, Dan talked about an experiment which caught my attention:
“they created tests that made it easy to cheat, then looked at
what happened if they reminded people right before the test of a moral
rule. (It turned out that being reminded of any moral code the Ten
Commandments, the non-existent ‘M.I.T. honor system’ caused cheating
They were able to prevent cheating by reminding people of a specific moral code.
In other words, proximate awareness caused people to behave in a
certain way. And their behavior was guided by the standards they were
made aware of. Or, put another way, being reminded of a behavioral
standard caused people to honor that standard.
This got me thinking about how this might be applied to the task of helping companies improve customer service.
One of the biggest challenges we face in improving customer service
is that it’s hard to change habits. For the most part, people know how
to deliver good service, at least on a basic level. Because we’re
human, we know what it means to treat others right. And, because we’re
customers, we know what most people want, as customers.
But, even if we know WHAT to do and HOW to do it, we don’t always do it.
Why don’t we do it? We’re under stress. We get busy. We have a lot
of competing priorities. For many reasons, we fail to put the customer
first. We choose to NOT do many of the things we know we should do if
we want to give our customer the experience they want.
For decades, management has tried carrot and stick approaches to
getting employees to do what they should (in customer service and every
other aspect of business). I’ve never been a big fan of either the
carrot or the stick. I believe Professor Ariely has found a better way.
Having proximate awareness of behavioral standards seems to be
effective in encouraging people to meet those standards.
What if we applied this to customer service?
If a person had a regular reminder of good customer service
practices or standards, would they be more likely to use those
practices or honor those standards?
I believe the answer is yes. I believe if we have a daily reminder
of best practices and desirable standards for serving our customers,
then we’ll be more likely to remember, use and honor them throughout
the work day.
So, I have developed a new tool to do this. It’s called the Daily Dose of Customer Service.
It delivers a short reminder every day of how to provide Amazing
Service to your customers. It might be a tip or a quote or a rule. But
each day it’s quick, typically less than 30 words.
Like Professor Ariely’s test, this is an experiment. If you choose
to subscribe, I’d encourage you to let me know how it works for you.
After you subscribe, wait a week or so and then observe your behavior
and your level of service. Do you see improvements? Are you using these
concepts more? Are you more aware of the importance of providing good
If you manage staff or you have clients who could use this, have
them try it. Then talk about whether they see a change or not. I’d love
to hear your feedback.