How You Can Make Your Customers Be Polite To Your Employees – Strategy With RS

Businesses in every part of the world face a challenge – of getting their customers to be polite to their employees.

Why is it important?

In 21st century ‘products’ are sold as ‘Services’; service is delivered by employees. If they are unhappy or demotivated then they will deliver poor quality service to customers, who in turn will be even more critical or rude to the employees which will further demotivate them resulting in service level falling further.

It gives birth to a negative feedback cycle which, in due course, will collapse on itself.

If you were a business manager of a café that served coffee, what strategy would you deploy to ensure that majority of your customers are polite – they prefix their order by ‘please’ & even better by ‘Good day, please…’ – while placing order for coffee?

Seems impossible to get customers to utter these polite words?

Let me share the strategy followed by a La Petite Syrah café located in Nice, arguably the play ground of the rich & famous,in France.

This café desired that its customers be polite with the barista while placing order. But every entreaty fell on deaf ears.

Then they decided to use principles of Behavioral Sciences to get customers to change their behaviors, which is based on the insight that people will change their behaviors only when they feel it is in their self interest to do so.




Armed with this insight they implemented a strategy which ensured that it was in the customers interest to be polite to barista while placing order.

A coffee at the café cost Euro 7. But if customers prefixed their order with ‘please …’ the price of coffee would fall to Euro 4.25. And if they desired to pay even less for the same coffee – Euro 1.40 , then they had to be extra polite to the barista & prefix their order with ‘hello’ as well as ‘please’.

This strategy was conceptualized more as a joke; but it started bearing fruits.

It has ensured that both stakeholders – employees & customers are more happy & relaxed.

Business Lesson for us: Behavioral Sciences principle educates us that people will change their behavior – not because you want them to – but only when it is in their self-interest.

If you wish to understand why appealing to customers self interest bears fruit, then I would invite you to view my video & also read the related article.





In this series, Rajesh Srivastava, Business Strategist and Visiting Faculty at IIM Indore gives you a regular dose of strategy case studies to help you think and keep you one step ahead as a professional as compared to your peers. Rajesh is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore and IIT Kanpur and has over 2 decades of experience in the FMCG industry. All previous Strategy with RS posts can be found here