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Customer Service Quote

“A customer is the most important visitor, on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption on work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider to our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him… He is doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity to do it.” The author of the above quote isn’t a famous CEO of a recognized business. He’s not the author of a bestselling business book. Would it surprise you to learn that the gentleman who wrote this is not at all known for business, but best known for his stand against violence and for living a simple life?  And it was from a speech delivered in 1890!  Yet these are still powerful words spoken by a powerful and influential man.  The author of the above quote is Mahatma Gandhi. (By the way, if you have proof that this quote isn’t from Gandhi, please let me know.  Multiple sources indicate that it is; however, many also question the comment as something so far out of what Gandhi is known for that you have to wonder.) Business people are typically the ones writing quotes about customer service, not peace-seeking activists.  But when it comes right down to it, these words are simply about treating another person the way they should be treated.  If all of the employees you worked with bought into this philosophy, and demonstrated it every day to both their external and internal customers, you would be part of an amazing organization to work for and do business with.

Let’s break it down:

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises.” Welcome a customer into your business.  It can be in person or on the phone.  Even if your business is an online website, you must draw the customer in and make them feel comfortable. “He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.” While your customers may be dependent on what you sell, in the end you are more dependent on them.  Your customers pay the salaries for you and the rest of the employees of your organization.  For without customers, you have no sales, which means you have no cash flow. “He is not an interruption on work.  He is the purpose of it.” No one should ever treat customers as an interruption.  On the contrary, customers should always feel welcomed and encouraged to interrupt us whenever they want to. “He is not an outsider to our business.  He is part of it.” If your customers are made to feel as if they are outsiders, they will eventually find a competitor who makes them feel better about doing business with them. “We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity to do it.”  In the end, the customer has choices.  They honor us with their business.  Maybe it’s not quite doing us a favor, but the alternative is that the customer does business with our competition.  Make the customer feel special and appreciated. Read the quote again.  Print it out.  Share it with all of the people you work with.  Discuss it. Embrace it. Implement it.  This is quintessential business advice.  

Shep Hyken is a customer service/CX expert, award-winning keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling author. Learn more about Shep’s customer service and customer experience keynote speeches and his customer service training workshops at Connect with Shep on LinkedIn.

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