Mutual respect and care are important values to many people. Customer Service settings are no exception for this. Though it is difficult to find, maintain and live up to a certain universal set of ethics and moral standards, it is crucial to keep certain values and important facts in mind when dealing with customers.
This post will find out why Customer Service ethics are important, what obstacles you might face and how to overcome them.
Universal Moral Standards
Cultural anthropologists and philosophers have been trying to find a universal code of ethics that applies the same for everyone at any time and any place for a long time. So far, they have been fairly unsuccessful. Cultural, religious and geographical differences as well as changing circumstances have always been influencing the ethical and moral standards of human beings.
Therefore, many say it is impossible to determine a universal code of ethics that applied in the same way to everyone. Still, it is important to keep trying, because finding a common ground is always possible and opens the opportunity to overcome differences, get on the same page and work together.
There is a certain set of standards, though, that comes close to being universal:
- trustworthiness (honesty, integrity, reliability, loyalty)
- responsibility (accountability)
- caring (avoiding harm)
Though not everyone sees equally much importance in all of them, most people still value these standards to a certain degree. Applying these standards in your Customer Service situations is not always easy, but it can help attract new clients and keep your costumers happy, cooperative and loyal to your company for a long time.
Cultural Differences in Morality and Ethics
As mentioned before, cultural, religious or geographical differences can influence the ethics and moral standards of people. In some areas, cultures or religions one aspect of morality might be much more significant than in others. For example, in some Western cultures, individual freedom and autonomy is highly valued, whereas in some Eastern cultures, collectivism and group harmony are prioritized.
Similarly, religious beliefs can have a significant impact on ethical and moral standards. For instance, in many Christian faiths, adultery is considered a sin, whereas in other cultures it may be seen as a normal part of human behavior. This can lead to differing moral standards depending on an individual’s religion or cultural background.
These different values can shape people’s ethical and moral decision making in various ways. It is important to keep this in mind when interracting with people in a professional setting. Furthermore, it also does not hurt to reflect on one’s own behavior in certain situations.
Overall, it is essential to understand and appreciate the diversity of ethical and moral standards across different cultures, religions, and geographies. In a Customer Service environment, it can be the decisive factor for making a sale and maintaining long-term relationships with customers.
Appreciating the diversity of humanity is not always easy. Our past experiences, internal thought-patterns and situational interpretations often lead us to applying implicit stereotypes and biases to the person in front of us. This is especially tricky to overcome, since a lot of times we are unaware of these stereotypes. Still, they can cause uneasy feelings and negative emotions not only in us but also in the people we unconsciously apply them to.
There are many different kinds of unconscious biases but they all have one thing in common: they are not based on the person themselves, but on factors outside of them; a group they belong to, their cultural or geographical background, rumours we have heard about them, or smaller things like their name, age or gender.
From the hiring process to customer interactions, unconscious biases can influence many things in Customer Service. They can cause you to treat one customer differently than another, being more empathic towards one and annoyed towards the other. This can very quickly result in decreased customer retention.
Looking back at the universal standards – trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, care, and citizenship, we can see that all of them can also be applied to customer service settings. Customers want to be respected, of course, while also having the feeling they can trust your company. They want to be treated fairly and be cared for, especially when it comes to issues and problems they might have.
It is important to keep these standards in mind and to carefully apply them to each and every customer, so they feel valued and do not suffer judgement driven by unconscious biases and stereotypes.
The best way to get rid of unconscious biases is exposure. Though there are training programs you can take part in, sometimes going out there and interacting with people can be enough to make you aware of the stereotypes you might have and to proof them wrong.
Appreciating diversity requires self-reflection, open-mindedness and active engagement. By challenging your biases, learning about different cultures and engaging with people from diverse backgrounds, you can develop a deeper appreciation for the richness and beauty of humanity.
Dehumanization of Technology
With technology becoming more advanced and customer service becoming more digital, it also becomes more difficult to keep up the same moral and ethical standards. Costumers become less human. They become e-mails, chats and tickets, open-text feedback and reviews. They do not have a face, sometimes not even a name. We cannot see or hear them. This makes it hard to treat them like the individual, diverse human beings that they actually are.
In digital Customer Service situations, it is sometimes hard to find empathy for the customer and their problem. Still, this is exactly what the customer expects from you. If you fail to include the psychological, “human-like” factors in your interactions with a customer, you might lose their loyalty. Customers still expect a treatment that feels like a face-to-face interaction while your company might only see the objective side. This can cause a drop not only in customer satisfaction, but in the number of customers overall.
It is important to keep in mind that you are still dealing with real human beings, even though it might be hard to believe at times. Though they may only be another ticket on your end, on theirs you might be solving a big issue they are having. They care – and so should you.
Having a certain standard in your company when it comes to ethics and morals is with no doubt important. Living up to these standards and constantly raising them can be difficult, but it will lead to happy customers who feel valued and seen as the individual human beings that they are.