What words or phrases come to mind when you think of diversity? Typical responses include things like color, ethnicity, disability, gender, age, family status, religion or sexual orientation. But diversity goes way beyond the typical responses. It also includes things like appearance, communication style, musical interests, mobility, job status, national origin, socio-economic status, language, regional origin, military status, political affiliation…and I could fill this page (and more) with additional examples. If you want employees to do a better job of serving your diverse customers, you might start by helping employees understand the broad concept of diversity.
Studies have shown that people are often discriminated against because they are different from the person or persons serving them. The reason sometimes lies with the fact that service providers are not aware of their own prejudices; and while awareness isn’t enough, it’s a good first step. With heightened awareness, we can better monitor our subconscious actions, which may be discriminatory. These actions are often based on past experiences and/or learned attitudes that create prejudices. With awareness and a conscious service focus, these inappropriate behaviors can be eliminated.
means providing outstanding service to internal and external customers, regardless of how different they may be from you. Here are five things you and your employees can do to increase your Service Savvy:
||Demonstrate Respect—go beyond tolerating differences and strive to appreciate those who are different from you.
||Avoid Assumptions—be aware of your subconscious thoughts about people and don’t “label” or stereotype your internal and/or external customers
||Avoid Cultural Taboos—remember that cultural norms differ.
||Lower Language Barriers—be creative in helping customers who do not speak your language.
||Adapt Products & Services—consider the needs of your diverse customers and find ways to meet those needs as often as possible.
Serving diverse customers is an issue that will continue to be a challenge as you become more a part of the global marketplace. Consider this: If today’s world population were reduced to a village of 100 people, the village would include:
13 North/South Americans
1 South Pacific Native
When setting your business goals, remember that diversity is not just the right thing to do; it’s important for increased market share and that means it’s also a bottom-line issue.
Donna Long, CSP
owns Learning Journey, Inc. She is the creator and (along with Leslie Aguilar of International Training and Development, LLC) producer of the training video Service Savvy: Providing Outstanding Service in a Diverse World
. The Service Savvy
video features vignettes from the five categories listed above.
To order the Video and Leader’s Guide,