Volume 8, November 2001: Keeping Customers

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2001 ISSN # 1545-8873

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” — Muhammed Ali

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company, from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” — Sam Walton, WalMart


  • What’s Hot in Leadership
  • Frequently Asked Questions from Leaders
  • Education
  • Useful Websites & Newsletters
  • Articles/Publications
  • Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

What’s Hot in Leadership

  • Everyone is a customer – employees, vendors, clients, governing bodies … anyone who interacts with you.
  • Customer relationships are best viewed as mutually beneficial partnerships.
  • The goal in customer service is loyalty (repeat business), not satisfaction.
  • Word-of-mouth advertising is the most powerful, least expensive marketing tool you have.

Frequently Asked Questions

“How to get staff to appreciate the customer’s perspective?”
The best way is for them to be a customer. Short of that, a mock experience, a process walk-through, or accompanying a customer as an advocate. Crude as it sounds, make it clear that the customer is their paycheck.
“What to do with the complaining customer?”
Treat the complaint as a gift. Always respond. It is more common for unhappy customers to be silent and take their business elsewhere. Thank them for the feedback. Use active listening and questioning to get to the root cause. Ask the customer about his/her acceptable level of service. Then utilize every resource available. Empower people closest to the customer to make it right, rather than create layers of bureaucracy for the customer to angrily work through.
“How do I lead the way to service quality?”
Nurture a vision of customer service. Establish high standards of customer service. Find and hire service winners. Remove organizational barriers so that staff can serve others. Channel customer feedback to the right places in the organization for people to learn. Set an example, by supporting and serving your customers – e.g., your employees.


Customer Service Training – the on-line headquarters of the Service Quality Institute. Ideas, tools and products to keep your customers, improve the morale of your employees and turn your company into a more productive organization.

Customer Focus – facilitator-led customer service training program for customer service representatives, including telephone call center, help desk, face-to-face, telemarketing, hospitality, technical, and internal service professionals.

CRM Films produces and distributes films and videos on customer service and sales training, and related topics.

Our firm, Key Associates, offers a one-day on-site course, Creating Customer-Mindedness.

Useful Websites & Newsletters

The Customer Service (CS) Group provides newsletters, survey materials, and specialized  products and services for customer service.

CS Week: How-to information, tips and inspiration from the hundreds of CS professionals who share their celebration successes.

Custom Answers: Web-based support tools. Knowledge base, online chat, and more.

Instant Service: Online Customer Service solutions, featuring chat, collaborative browsing, email management, FAQs and more.

The Call Center: For outsourcing a variety of customer support services like e-support, order taking, help desk, telemarketing, messaging.

Teleplaza: A subject-based, categorized directory structure for telesales and customer service resources on the Web. Training, consulting, software, etc.


Anderson, K. Great Customer Service on the Telephone. NYC: Amacon, 1992.

Anderson K. and Zemke, R. Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service. NYC: Amacon, 1992.

Bell, Ship R. Customers as Partners: Building Relationships That Last. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 1996.

Bell, Chip and Zemke, R. Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service. NYC: Amacon, 1998.

Bolton, R. People Skills. New York: Touchstone, 1979.

Cannie, J.K. with Caplin, D. Keeping Customers For Life. NYC: Amacon, 1991.

Connellan, T.K. and Zemke, R. Sustaining Knock Your Socks Off Service. NYC: Amacon, 1993.

Desatnik, Robert L. & Detzel, Denis H. Managing to Keep the Customer. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993.

Karr, Ron & Don Blohowiak. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Great Customer Service. New York: Alpha Books/MacMillon, 1997.

Leebov., Wendy, Scott, Gail & Olsen, Lolma. Achieving Impressive Customer Service. Chicago: AHA Press, 1998.

Neuhauser, P.C. Tribal Warfare in Organizations: Turning Tribal Conflict into Negotiated Peace. New York: Ballinger Publishing Company, 1988.

Newman, John. Stay Cool, Calm, & Collected When the Pressure’s On. NYC: Amacon, 1992.

Roesch, Roberta. Smart Talk: The Art of Savvy Business Conversations. New York: Amacom, 1989.

Sanders, Betsy. Fabled Service. San Diego: Pfeiffer. 1995.

Skopec, Eric and Laree S. Kiely. Everything’s Negotiable … When You Know How To Play the Game. New York: Amacom, 1994.

Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

It is easy to lose touch with your purpose when you are deprived of customer contact. Many leaders do rounds or work on the front line, to have direct customer contact and conversations. “What delighted you about our service?” “What was a disappointment to you?” “What do we need to do that we're not doing, to make this the ideal place for your business?” Imagine what would have to be true about your business to create Raving Fans: think this through with your colleagues. Use the ideas to craft a vision of impressive service.


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