The Golden Rule, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," may
seem self-evident in the way we try to conduct our personal lives. Yet this
axiom is assuming new importance as a guiding principle in the world of
The climate of the recession-ridden early 1980s, when customers blithely
traded away high-quality service in exchange for price reductions or
convenience, is no more. Instead, customers are demanding service again.
And companies of all sizes are realizing that their strongest selling point
can sometimes boil down to treating customers as they would like to be
treated -- or better. "Consumers are beginning to feel that their needs
haven't been met," explains Bonnie Jansen of the U.S. Office of Consumer
Affairs. "They're sick of getting poor service all the time."
And the message is getting through. According to John Goodman,
president of the Technical Assistance Research Programs Institute (TARP):
"In the past few years, companies began to realize that service was really
a competitive factor, and began to view it as an integral part of their
The growing significance of meeting -- or exceeding -- customer
demands for quality service has special implications for small business.
For it is in this arena that small companies can, in the least expensive
way, set themselves apart from the competition.
In fact, a recent three-year study by the National Federation of
Independent Business (NFIB) in Washington, D.C., showed that small
businesses which put heavy emphasis on customer service were more likely to
survive and succeed than competitors who emphasized such advantages as
lower prices or type of product.
Reprinted from the United States Small Business Administration
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