Respecting Your Customers

Seth Godin has a nice commentary on respecting customers.

Some will tell you that treating people with respect is just an old-fashioned notion. Business ethics may be an oxymoron — is respectful marketing the same? Don't we need to call people at home during dinner or trick them with fine print in order to make a profit?

In fact, I believe that the only way to make a long-term profit is by respecting people. There's growing evidence that the old, shortsighted ways of making a profit are getting less effective. People are fending off marketing assaults with TiVo and Telezappers. More than 12 people a second signed up for the Federal Trade Commission's Do Not Call list on its first day. Consumers are voting with their pocketbooks, choosing to visit the retailers that treat them with respect, not avarice.

Some marketers may understand how strip-mining consumer trust is costing them, but most don't want to take two steps back to the good old days. Instead, they're fighting the wrong fights. They're getting ready to sue TiVo, because the device makes it too easy to skip commercials. They're faking the headers on the spam that they send out to get past filters. They're lobbying Congress to stop the Do Not Call list.

But when a business spams, it has made its lack of respect clear. When an airline puts the "gotcha" into the fine print of a full-page ad, it's disrespecting consumers' intelligence. Running a business that can survive only by deception and disrespect is not our right — our right is to realize our dead-end path and pick a better, more respectful business.

I agree totally. Just as people enjoy being around other people who respect them, people enjoy patronizing businesses that respect them. Nothing is worse than shopping in a store or calling customer service and being treated like you are an idiot. A good business gives customers what they want. I can't drive that point home enough, but it's amazing how many companies out there are not customer focued.