Cultivating Positive Relationships Customer Service

Who comes to mind repeatedly in this ‘entitled customer’ description?

Customer entitlement didn’t spring fully formed out of nowhere. While it’s always been an issue, the politics of the last four years have spotlighted it in unwavering, infuriating detail.

Entitled customers make it much harder for customer service reps to do their job—because the bottom line in most cases is bowing to customer wishes, even when they’re way beyond what’s fair. If the rep capitulates, the customer gets rewarded for their bad behavior. If the rep challenges or refuses, their job could be imperiled because corporations more often than not bend over backwards not to offend. Unfortunately, in their zeal to keep everyone happy, companies often end up creating dissatisfied customers by rewarding the bad behaviors of the entitled (e.g., rule players forced to stand in line behind someone with 50 items in a 15-item-or-fewer lane).

It’s not a healthy customer service environment in any way, shape or form. A great article by Jade Wu, PhD on addresses some common characteristics of entitlement: “Entitlement is a person’s belief that they are inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment…Some people wear their entitlement like a crown—they’re rude, demanding, contemptuous, and they get resentful, not just disappointed, when things don’t go exactly their way.”

The article continues, “Entitled individuals genuinely think they’re better or more important than others. Making a request at someone else’s expense, with no sense that their request might be inappropriate, definitely qualifies as entitled…They have a hard time playing fairly because fairness implies equality. Entitled people have difficulty compromising, negotiating, following rules, waiting their turn, or taking one for the team. They don’t apologize… They have a tendency to manipulate and control others. They think manipulation and controlling behavior will get them what they want.

“When it doesn’t, they quickly get threatening and hostile. With people they perceive to be below them, like service workers or customer support, they’re rude and go out of their way to show that they’re dominant and superior. And this includes throwing tantrums and leaving deliberate messes in their wake when they don’t get what they wanted…entitled people want to win and to be admired for it.”

There is no doubt that the behavior of politicians the past four years has reinforced the “validity” of being an entitled consumer. The question becomes, “What are we going to do about it?”

This sad state of affairs has reflected the behavior of “We, The People” for a long time now. From cheating in grocery store limited-item aisles to adoring and encouraging the totally outrageous entitled behavior of celebrities, sports figures, and the like, entitlement has become a mainstay of American life—and the standard for much of the world.

Given how ingrained this behavior is in so many people, it will take a major mindshift to swing the pendulum back in a more collaborative direction. Next week, we’ll take a look at some ways to start addressing entitled behaviors involved in customer service interactions and transactions.

Stay safe and sane!


Where does customer service cross over into undeserved customer entitlement? A recent T-Mobile ad campaign got me thinking about this important distinction, with the “I want it all…and I want it now” theme. While competent, dedicated and sincere customer service needs to continue growing in this country, the opposite is true of our entitlement mentality, showcased by this ad. As everyone continues to suffer through the pandemic, political dysfunction and economic loss, it’s time to reassess what we’re truly entitled to (e.g., appropriate healthcare, a good education for our children) versus continuing to live by our spoiled-brat ways. Along the way, consumers also need to reframe how they interact with customer service forces—who are suffering the same setbacks as the rest of us.

Mark Lusky

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Mark Lusky

Mark Lusky (aka The Happy Curmudgeon)
is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm. He’s a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience, and author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage.

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