The Satisfaction Formula – Respect

In this blog, co-author Jayna Sweet explores the importance of RESPECT when it comes to maximizing customer engagement.

Certainly, you’ve heard that you must “give respect to get respect,” which is the paradox of respect – and service in general. When you serve, you get served. When you give respect, you get respected. Seems pretty simple – but it isn’t always easy. Working to respect customers who haven’t necessarily “earned” it can feel unfair or frustrating. But it’s important. It ties to empathy – when you respect your customers, you’re acknowledging their humanness.

On a night in Seattle for our first anniversary trip, my husband Kyle and I were looking to kill a few hours between the activities we’d done earlier in the day and an improv show we were attending late that night. Kyle’s a beer guy and loves himself a cool bar, so we were looking for a place to spend a bit of time. He came across a place via Yelp that was considered a mainly-locals haunt and was described as a bookstore-and-bar. It sounded just like our kind of place.

Based on the mostly good reviews, the delightful description of the bar, and the location, we made the short walk from the ocean to the bar with excited energy. Using the Satisfaction Formula, we were expecting an 8.

When we got to the address, we were a bit confused, as the establishment didn’t have a sign with its name anywhere – and we were on one of the most crowded streets in Seattle, smack-dab in the middle of the famous Pike Place Market. On top of that, it just looked like a bar – there was no “bookstore” in sight. So, the first thing I said to Kyle when we stepped through the door was, “Are you sure this is it?” I did my best to be quiet and respectful of the place of business, not wanting to offend anyone with my confusion. (Spoiler alert: I failed.)

I didn’t want anything to drink so I sat down in one of their cozy sofa nooks – which did live up to the positive reviews – to wait while Kyle ordered his drink. He walked up to the bar and before he could utter a word, the bartender said, “You have to be cool to drink here.”

Thinking he was just teasing, Kyle said in his typical self-deprecating humor, “Aw, well, guess you better kick me out now.”

The bartender threw a dirty look in my direction and said, “She’s been unconvinced ever since you walked in. I don’t think you guys are cool enough.” I heard his statement and also thought he had to be joking (because who says stuff like that to customers?), so I smiled at him and tried to play it off.

Kyle ignored the comment and said, “It’s my first time here-”

He was cut off by a sarcastic, “Welcome.”

He then asked the bartender, “What do you recommend?” thinking they had a specialty.

The bartender responded in a pretty annoyed voice, “Well first, I’d recommend you ask what we have here.” Taken aback, Kyle did ask what they have, and ended up ordering a beer (which was warm, by the way).

Then, the bartender threw another nasty look in my direction and said, “Nothing for the…” (he paused as if to imply that he was holding his tongue and not calling me a name he really wanted to use) “…young lady?” When Kyle told him I didn’t want anything, the guy said, “Huh. That’s too bad.”

Kyle came to sit next to me, said, “I don’t feel welcome here,” chugged his warm beer, put it down on the table, and we left almost as quick as we’d come in.

We later left a pretty poor review on their Yelp page. I can honestly say we’d rate that as low as possible when it comes to our perception of the experience. And 1-8 = -7. That’s not a great place to be.

It seems the bartender was indeed offended by my confusion when we first walked in, and instead of taking a breath, considering that he didn’t know the whole story, smiling, and trying to turn the situation around, he seemed to experience a failure to comprehend our status as customers and decided to treat us with apparent contempt and arrogance.

If you heard a customer ask, “Are you sure this is it?” why wouldn’t you launch into, “It is! You found us!” or, “Even if it’s not, you’re here now. Welcome!” Instead, he turned something we were excited about into one of our worst service experiences in recent memory – and gained a poor review in the process.

For Millennial and Gen Z customers in particular, the concept of feeling respected as customers sparks a lot of feelings. Respect is important no matter the generation of customer – but I think our reasoning may be a bit different. As customers, we long to feel a sense of belonging and connection with the businesses we support. Being treated with respect goes a long way toward building that feeling of camaraderie – and maybe even collaboration – with a business. The lack of respect leads to feelings of isolation, which I can say with certainty won’t entice a Millennial or Gen Z customer to return.

About the Author

As the daughter of Dave and Kathy, Jayna Sweet has been around customer service her entire life. An actress and writer with experience as a barista, dog walker, call center representative, and communications designer, Jayna lives smack-in-the-middle of the two biggest generations – Millennial and Gen Z – and provides a truly unique perspective on customer service.

Learn More

Interested in learning more and purchasing the book? Check out The Satisfaction Formula’s website and come back next week to learn the importance of VALUE!