The Platinum Rule

the platinum ruleA friend recently talked about the golden rule in one of his posts – treat others as you would like to be treated. It was a great prompt to talk about what people really want – is it the golden rule or the platinum rule? The platinum rule suggests you treat people as they would want to be treated, not as you would want to be treated. The point being, your preferences may be different than theirs. It requires a deeper understanding of the people you interact with, usually by asking them about their interests and observing their preferences.

On the customer side of the house, I’ve been on both the sending and receiving end of information about what customers want from the business. If done well, the business can draw a closer connection with the customer by understanding their needs and preferences and evolving accordingly. As a customer, there is nothing more frustrating than getting a survey, spending the time to complete it, never hearing anything back and seeing no change in the business. On the flip side, it is fantastic when the company takes the feedback and makes a change for the better.

From an employee perspective, great companies engage people. They understand that having a culture that encourages dialogue and fosters engagement is better for the company and for the people. For some people, regular praise is important. For others, it may be a promotion or a raise. And yet for others, it is actively participating in the direction of the company. By having an active dialogue, the virtuous cycle can emerge where people are excited to come to work every day and make an impact, and as a result the company gets better. Everyone gets what they need.

How are you engaging with your customers? With your people? Do you truly understand what they want and how you can deliver on it?

Service that makes you say “WOW!”

wowWe all know it when we see it – that little extra something that makes us want to come back because the experience was over the top. That was dinner with a few friends at a local restaurant. We were warmly greeted at the door by name, promptly seated and the dinner began to unfold one course at a time. Each was beautifully prepared, tasted amazing and presented in a warm, hospitable manner. Somehow we always had beverages, food was spaced out in a manner that flowed and the experience was wonderful. So much so, that we didn’t even notice dessert was taking a little longer than other courses to make it our way. We were surprised when we were told there wasn’t going to a charge for a few items to make up for the “not up to standard” service. Wow – that little extra touch had us talking for weeks.

Customers have a choice where they spend their money. What experience do you want yours to have?

Why did the chicken cross the road?

crossing roadAs the saying goes, to get to the other side. She was anything but a chicken and in a wheel chair. I was in my car at the stoplight with a bird’s eye view. As she was just about to get to the other side of the street, her face turned into a frown and she started shaking her head. It was at that point that I could see the source of her dismay – no wheelchair ramp to get onto the sidewalk. This street was incredibly busy and narrow. She sped up the street trying to get to the next block before the light released a wave of cars that would quickly engulf her. Luckily she made it without incident, probably because she had a motorized wheelchair.

The city is very focused on meeting the needs of pedestrian traffic, so it was surprising that there was no ramp at this particular intersection. It got me to thinking about how well business does at understanding and meeting the needs of its customers. There were very well marked crosswalks meant to move people safely across a busy intersection, but one critical element was missing that puts a group of people in danger. While most business cases are not this extreme in terms of not meeting the needs of customers, it is a good reminder to think about how people use products and services.