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  Customer ServiceSaturday, June 22nd, 2024  

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 business.

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 product."

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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