Customer Service:The Golden Rule vs the so-called Platinum Rule

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The golden rule—the principle of treating others as you’d like to be treated, a philosophy that is believed to  exist in every culture (in “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” or somewhat similar language) is the bedrock of customer service and hospitality the world over, and has been, you could argue, since biblical and Classical times and before: “For once I was a stranger in a strange land” and so forth.


It is also the explicit basis of some of the most storied organizations that have built their growth on service. My favorite example of this being the conscious growth of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts as a golden rule-powered organization, powering its growth all the way from its humble origins as ––kid you I do not– the Four Seasons Motor Hotel, based on this simple principle.


The Golden Rule as a driver of CS, and ultimately of company growth, however, has taken a beating in recent, years. I know that sounds hard to believe, but in our world, one-upmanship rules the day, or at least rules the chattering classes.  And if gold is good, then platinum must be better, right?  The platinum rule, such as it is, is something along the lines of “do unto others as they would like to be done unto, not [just] how you’d like to be done unto.”  I do think, my snakiness aside, that this is an interesting point being made. I’m just not sure how much this distinction matters.  

So: My question for you: Is this an important distinction?  Where do you come down on this, and how does one, or the other, or something different guide how you carry out your customer service work and your designing of customer experience, if that’s part of your work? 


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