"Do onto others as you would have others do unto you." That's the Golden Rule. Seems like an unarguable truth for customer service. In fact, when helping people improve their customer service, I frequently hear this quote as an example of how to provide great customer service.
In reality, if applied verbatim, the Golden Rule can kill great customer service.
Think about it from your own perspective. Do you REALLY want people to treat you the way THEY want to be treated? Most likely, not. For instance, if I was treating you the way I want to be treated, you might get a big hug from me and be followed around and chatted you up until you leave. (Which for some of you would be sooner rather than later, I imagine.)
If my husband was providing the Golden Rule, he might ignore you until you asked him a direct question. Again, this would work for some of you but certainly not all.
The Golden Rule is somewhat self-centered. It assumes that the way YOU want to be treated is THE way to provide great customer service for everybody. Unfortunately, it doesn't work, because as humans we are so very different from each other in style and preference.
Tony Allesandra has it right. He created the Platinum Rule "Treat others the way they want to be treated."
This outward focused philosophy guarantees great customer service by making each customer interaction uniquely personal.
Here are some personal differences you should consider:
Pace. Is the person someone who needs time to process, or are they quick to respond?
Task or Relationship Based. Does your customer want to spend time chatting about the weather or do they want to get right down to business?
Eye Contact. Does your customer prefer eye contact or do they avoid it? If they don't like eye contact don't stare at them with the hope they will suddenly start giving it back.
Body Language. Does your customer have their arms folded or is their body language open?
Proximity. Is your customer a "close talker" or do they keep their distance?
There are millions of ways that we are different from one another. Make it a goal to minimize the differences between our customer's preferences and our own. Sometimes I get the pushback "I don't want to be a phoney." Think of becoming a Communication Chameleon. Chameleons match their surroundings without becoming a different animal. You can dial your style up or down to match your customer without being untrue to yourself.
The more you live the Platinum Rule "Treat others the way they want to be treated," the better service you will provide. Being observant and modifying your behavior to match your customer will ensure your customer perceives that they have gotten great service. Start using the Platinum Rule today.