I Want My Lemonade.
Women come and go at ten in the morning from their social gatherings and sporting matches at this typical, upscale, American country club. On Tuesdays, ladies golf brunch day, the women play 18 holes, stop in the locker room for refreshments, and then later have lunch in the locker room’s dining space.
On most days, lemonade and trail mix are provided. Rumor has it that the men even have a bar, finger sandwiches, popcorn, and soup in their locker room.
On one off Friday, someone didn’t put lemonade in the women’s locker room. What ensued was comical. Apparently, the ladies golf brigade decided to play that Friday. As they filtered into the locker room for quick stops between holes, they noticed that there was no lemonade.
One such lady in her sixties was distressed. She frowned and muttered under her breath something about there being no lemonade. Then, she hurried out the door to her golf cart.
Another threesome came in and proclaimed, “My goodness, where’s the lemonade?” and they frantically started opening cabinets. One of them remembered it was Friday and there was no one to set up the lemonade. Should they complain?
In the 1980s, Wendy’s capitalized on customer entitlement with the “Where’s the Beef?” commercial. Times have changed, but the desire for more hasn’t:
Provide What’s Expected Everyday
It’s human nature to expect what has always been. Altering the quality of what’s delivered is disconcerting to most people.
When businesses sell quality products or services, customers will soon move from appreciating the products or services to expecting the same quality, price, or delivery each and every time. If the standard declines, customers might leave business relationships feeling frustrated enough to share their discontent with circles of thousands.
In the search industry, some SEO companies have even repositioned themselves to be content marketing or digital marketing firms with de-emphasis on search engine results, in order not to promise something that would be difficult to deliver. The marketing and salesmanship remain, but their packaging of expected results changed.
The Definition of Entitled
In the case of the golfers, the lemonade was always provided and they, thus, felt entitled to the lemonade because it was a perk they expected with club membership. But, how should one act if an entitled thirst isn’t quenched?
What does it mean to be entitled? According to the Free Dictionary, the adjective means “qualified for by right according to law” and the Collins English Dictionary defines entitled as, “having the right or permission to do something.”
The connotations we associate with the word vary. To some, entitlement flows from positive self-worth and an uncanny ability that puts one at the top. Entitlement is a result of hard work, a drive for perfection, and knowing how to “park yourself.”
Interestingly, this Audi commercial distances itself from the negative connotations that are inter-mingled with “entitlement” or “expected.” It rebrands “luxury” to mean progressive and forward-thinking.
To some, “entitlement” is associated with an adult who acts like a child. Advertisers exploit the negative connotations of self-absorbed entitlement, as seen in this commercial’s pitting of two women’s lifestyles against each other.
Customers Don’t Like Change or Costly Surprises
Should we feel entitled? Ask that question at your next luncheon and you’ll hear a variety of perspectives.
With regular frequency, a payroll company raised the rates of its services. One frustrated customer wrote to the company to receive a discount. He received this letter from the payroll’s customer service representative:
I hope this email finds you well. I apologize for the delay in responding but as you likely know I was out of the office last week.
I have reviewed your account and do remember our discussion from mid-April. At that time I applied a X% discount to your account that was to be effective for one calendar year. I have confirmed the X% discount was applied correctly and is applied to your current invoice(s). I do however notice that there was an ‘across the board’ pricing increase in early April and that is why your billing after the discount is still above X payroll. Your current billing is totaling X+ and this includes the discount. Our normal billing for a monthly payroll processor is X++ .
After careful review of the situation, we are unfortunately unable to offer any additional discounts at this time. You are currently saving over XYZ a year with the current discount compared to our normal pricing.
If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to let me know.
Should one roll over when a company says, “we’re, sorry, we can’t meet your expectations?” Many company policies, discounts, and procedures are man-made and arbitrary; thus, don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. The customer did not believe that the rep just happened to notice an “across the board price increase.” The discount given was basically offset by the price increase.
Is the customer right to feel entitled to a better price?
Yes and Maybe.
Yes, great customer service bends over backward to please and to save customers. If the customer doesn’t believe he’s receiving the appropriate value for what he’s paying, he should, of course, feel free to express that fact and leave, if necessary. A superior customer service rep would not let a relationship get to that point.
But also, maybe.
Businesses size up their customers with scrutiny, too. Is the customer worth the business’s time? Is he high-maintenence? The above payroll company rep might think that his company is already competitively priced or that the customer’s business is easily replaced. While not very customer-friendly, the rep’s reasoning may be very profitable in the short-run. Some customers cost more than they’re worth.
But the cost of not reaching out to please the customer can result in much more than the loss of one customer.
Entitled or Just Rude?
Having high expectations is fair, but life owes nothing. Stomping one’s foot might win quick results, but lose long-term benefits. Don’t underestimate the value of each positive relationship in life.
A business woman parked in a spot right in front of a small, downtown hot dog stand and then started walking across the street to eat at a competing restaurant. The hot dog restaurant’s owner came out, waved to the business woman, and instructed her to move her car. The business woman snapped back, “I can park where I want to park.” She was right, but just to stick it to the hot dog stand’s owner, the business woman parks in that spot each and every time she goes downtown, even though she never buys a hot dog and there are spots closer to the restaurant she does patron.
Most would say this behavior is rude, but it happens. Why?
Jamie Lee Curtis once called out Paris Hilton’s parents for not teaching their daughter basic rules of civility in society. She wrote in a Huff post:
What we need to do is look long and hard at our part in all this. Where did our children get the message that the rules don’t apply to them? And where did we, the Mothers, get the message that if we abdicate our responsibilities as Mothers, the Universe will do our job for us? And it does, but without any of the love and tenderness and compassion that we could have given, along with the lessons.
The Psychology of Entitlement
From a human psychology perspective, according to Dr. Alice Boyes, there are nine types of entitlement tendencies:
1. The rules apply to others, but not to you.
2. You feel inconvenienced when others need something from you, but then expect others to do favors for you.
3. The world revolves around your agenda.
4. You disregard rules meant for others’ comfort.
5. You freeload.
6. You feel it’s okay to upset or to offend people.
7. You receive more from volunteers than you volunteer.
8. When working in groups, you need to be the leader or the one to get the credit.
9. Cancelling appointments or reservations without considering the affect on others is not a big deal to you.
Clearly there’s a line to understand and to respect. That line may be different in one country, region, state, workplace, or family verses another, but there are some common parameters.
A Civil Challenge to Customers
If you’re a customer, who expects to be treated as number one, consider following these guidelines before shopping elsewhere:
- Clearly Communicate the Issue: Start talking, whether through email or over the phone. The business can’t change its practices if it doesn’t understand your issue and how it affected you.
- Remove Emotion: This is usually much easier said than done. Imagine that the person on the other line is going through a health or personal crisis. Sometimes we’re much more forgiving of people when we see them as people instead of as objects meant to serve.
- Talk to a Decision-Maker: Before airing your frustrations to ten friends, find who can help you and talk with that manager. Customer service reps always want you to think they’re the final authority. Just keep using the phrase, “Who is your manager? I’d like to talk to that person.”
- Don’t Wash Laundry Over Social Media: Unless there is no other means to solve the problem, don’t attempt to hurt a brand’s reputation. Just move on. If you’re earning a reputation as a professional complainer, your words won’t hold as much weight in the long run.
- Know What You Want: Clearly explain the price, procedure, or quality of what you want. Say, “I expect or want to have X.” In some cases, you’ll need to put your requirements in writing.
- Bend or Walk: Sometimes a business just can’t give you what you want. Deal with it or be willing to dust off your feet and walk out the door, (but as a fair warning, the competition might be worse than what you had.)
- Be the Customer You’d Like to Have: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If you’re snippy to others all day long, that energy will find its way back to you.
It’s not wrong to want the lemonade and to ask for the lemonade, but have a little humility. And, if the lemonade is provided as a bonus to make you feel important, then, when it’s not available, take a deep breath and pour yourself a glass of water.
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