Would You Do That to Your Mother?: The "Make Mom Proud" Standard for How to Treat Your Customers
July 16, 2018
Jeanne Bliss provides the question to end all questions when designing and delivering customer service: Would you do that to your mother?
We've all heard someone say that, "This isn't personal; It's just business." It is almost always a cop out, and clearly untrue if you have to utter it. Moreover, it's an attitude that is harmful to business, not just people's feelings.
I may have set up a bit of a straw man here, so let me backtrack. I fully understand it is a statement usually uttered when telling people that the impetus behind making a particular decision wasn't personal animus, but business calculation. Still, it reflects the attitude that business isn't personal, and that attitude is harmful to relationships at work (there is a way to deliver bad news in a way that is caring—better because it is personal), our career (personal relationships and networking are both obviously very important), and the service we provide to customers. All of us have at times felt like we were treated like a number rather than a human being by a company, when a company's policy has very directly stopped a customer service representative from doing what they know would be the right thing to do.
Jeanne Bliss, a pioneer of the Chief Customer Officer (or CCO) role in corporate America—in companies like Lands’ End, Microsoft, Coldwell Banker, and Allstate—has a simple solution for bad service: make it personal. She suggests one simple question to keep in your mind when designing customer experiences and interacting with customers, and it just happens to be the name of the book, Would You Do That to Your Mother? Because the life lessons we learned from our mother shouldn't be discarded in our business life:
The lessons we learned as kids stick with us. And often they have our mom’s face all over them. Her guidance, her rules, and her sayings are still in our heads. You probably grew up that way, too, with a simple, clear understanding of what to do and what not to do.
We were taught to share, trust each other, play nice in the sandbox, and treat others like we’d want to be treated. Those lessons remain some of the best advice we’ve ever been given.
This book was our Editor's Choice back in May, and Jeanne was also kind enough to provide a manifesto to ChangeThis on the topic, and I encourage you to go check out both. But, if I can boil it down to it's most fundamental ingredient, I think it would be that, as Bliss writes, "This is our grand opportunity to let people know that they matter." This moment, every day, day in and day out, is our opportunity to let people know they matter, to treat them as the mother figures in our lives taught us to treat people. And that means all people, starting with employees:
Treating customers with dignity and respect starts with treating employees the same way. In order to deliver customer dignity, employees need to feel it, experience it, and receive it themselves.
There is no need to coddle your employees or customers—they're not your children—but you should absolutely treat them with the dignity and respect you wish to be treated with. After all, you may think you're taking care of them, but they are (like your mother) really taking care of you. Without them, your company doesn't exist. Treat them as you would want to be treated—better yet, as you would want your mother to be treated. Ask yourself, daily, Would You Do That to Your Mother?
We have 20 copies available.