During one of our Ethical Business Workshops a participant asked, “What does good customer service have to do with ethics?” The other tenants covered in the workshop (and the guide) are perhaps easier to accept and understand, yet how our customers (or clients) are treated is a true litmus test of the ethical culture in the company.
Our client relationships reveal whether or not we have a genuine ethical company culture. A friend and fellow business owner in the Small Giant Community in his book, A Slice of the Pie, Nick Sarillo writes about a negative experience that helped shape his company culture:
“Recently I ended a gym membership after a yearlong stint. It was a perfectly adequate facility in terms of what most people look for in a gym—affordable, good equipment, etc. But none of the staff smiled at me, nor did they greet me or make eye contact when I brought back my towel or the key for my locker. Once when I lost my key and asked for help, no one seemed interested in helping me. I was appalled at the bad customer service, and I thought, ‘How can I keep going to a health club that isn’t taking care of it clients? What message does that send about how Nick’s (Nick’s Pizza and Pub) perceives customer service? How does that serve our purpose and values?’ The last straw came when I forgot my membership card for the first time in a year, and the attendant pointed to a sign on his desk that read, ‘You don’t have your card, we’re not going to help you.’”
It pains me to say that Nick’s experience above is what most of us experience daily in the marketplace. The customer-driven culture is the exception rather than the rule. How sad!
The ethical culture of a company requires hiring the right people with the customer in mind, both internal and external. The staff is trained and encouraged to demonstrate service-driven principles. Having worked at Marriott for over 23 years previously, I know what a pleasure it is to serve and how customer service can be delivered decorously.
At Edoc Service we work with clients that appreciate a supplier-partner rather than a vendor relationship. We expect the same from our suppliers.
You be the judge, is it ethical to place uncaring or careless staff serving clients? Your call.
Jim Mullaney is President and CEO of Edoc Service, Inc. a “Fast 55” virtual company based in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Read More: If you like this article you will want to read “Hiring?“