Do Your Customers Deserve a Bill of Rights?

September 17th, 2009 by Rob Berman Leave a reply »

The U.S. Bill of Rights was established December 15, 1791.  How long have your customers had their own Bill of Rights?

I view a Customer Bill of Rights as the codification of what we say about our approach to customers.

Customer Touch Points

We have many touch points with customers and potential customers.  Examples of these might include:

  • Length of time to return phone calls.
  • Response time to e-mails, especially those requesting help.
  • Deliver services on agreed timeline.
  • Level of training or expertise of staff.
  • Complete project at or under budget.

Publicize Your Internal Standards

Often, there is a set of internal standards to which we hold our employees accountable.  Take that internal document and make it an external one.  Tell your customers about the standards that you already live by.

You already know that these standards can be achieved.  Therefore, downside risk of not meeting the Bill of Rights should be mitigated.

Publishing a Customer Bill of Rights is a great way to show how you value customers.

How Long Should Your Bill of Rights Be?

The U.S. Bill of Rights numbers 10 items.  Your version can start out with any number you like.  It does not need to match the number in the U.S. Bill of Rights.

In fact, I suggest no more than five or seven items on the list.  This approach allows you to roll out an expanded list to your customers and prospects in six to 12 months.  You essentially get “two or three bites” at the apple: first by launching; then, by separately expanding and re-launching your customer accountabilities.

The Takeaway

Don’t just talk the talk; you must walk the walk as well.  Tell your customers how you will treat them by having a Customer Bill of Rights.

What do you think?

  • What percentage of businesses have a Customer Bill of Rights?
  • Do you agree that a Bill of Rights provides a competitive advantage to businesses that offer one?
  • Do you utilize a Bill of Rights?
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  1. Bill Ruesch says:

    Hi Rob,

    You invited me as a member of your Linkedin group to comment on your blog. I read Ben Moodie’s comments and agree with them. One good place to find free pictures is on I use it regularly.

    I have been blogging for less than a year myself and I can tell you that you will learn a lot and make changes that you haven’t even heard about yet, or if you’ve heard about them they aren’t clear to you. You’ll develop a new vocabulary that includes, Mega Tags, SEO’s, Widgets, Plug-ins, etc.

    One minor criticism of your latest blog, you assume that your audience understands what a customer’s bill of rights are. I’d start with a short explanation of what they are and how they work. Blogs are World Wide, you can’t take anything for granted. That doesn’t mean you have to oversimplify all the time, but you should consider that someone entirely green is reading.

    Drop by and see my blog called Talking Through My Hat It is primarily about printing and publishing, but I also tackle political and social issues that affect small business.

  2. Mary Nell says:

    Hey, Rob.

    Interesting post. A couple of comments before I address your “question” portion.

    1) In the world of IT, an SLA (Service Level Agreement) is almost mandatory. It is exactly what you are describing here but typically more internally focused (my customers were my co-workers). It described the deliverables and timelines the customer could expect and the penalties for failing.
    2) In the world of Real Estate, I did not have a written BoR for my clients… but the first face-to-face meeting was when I laid out what a client should expect from me. I also used that opportunity to determine their preferences… phone call?… text?… email?… etc. I would love to see a written BoR from any of the providers with which I work.

    1) I would guess the percentage to be VERY low… less than 10%.
    2) I would definitely consider a BoR to be a competitive advantage as I would lean toward the business offering me one over the competitor that did not.
    3) See my Comment #2 in previous paragraph.

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