Principle before Policy – the New Rules for Customer Service. Part 2.

Principle before Policy – the New Rules for Customer Service. Part 2.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

Principle before Policy the new rules for customer service. Part two.

Effective customer service is easier to perform than ineffective customer service. But judging by the way most companies deliver customer service, you’d never know it.

Why? Lots of corporate “policy” lack of corporate “principles.”

Policies have nothing to do with success, principles have everything to do with the success of “people” that leads to the success of “company.”

To serve customers, a set of principles must be established, so that the policies can be delivered in a positive (customer retaining) manner. Oh, that.

Here are the rest of the 12.5 Principles of Customer Service Success. Train on these before you even dream of opening your policy book.

  • Principle 7. Word of mouth advertising is 50 times more powerful than advertising. America is not sold by advertising alone it is sold by word-of-mouth advertising. One person telling another what to do, what to buy, where to shop, what and where to eat, where to live, what to drive, OR what NOT to do, buy, or drive, OR where NOT to shop, eat, or live. Memorable customer service (to create favorable word-of-mouth-advertising) can only take place in a human to human situation. Secret: To be the best you can be for others, first you must be the best you can be for yourself. This means attitude, discipline, and self education every day. Not “serve for the company” rather serve to be the best you can be for yourself.
    • What’s the word on the street about your company?
    • Do you spend as much to promote positive word-of-mouth advertising as you spend on advertising?
    • Principle Action: Write about things that help customers, speak at trade shows and business functions get in front of people who can say “yes” to you, and deliver value first.
  • Principle 8. When you’re done speaking with a customer or the transaction is over, that’s when they START talking. They will either say something good about you, nothing about you, or something bad about you. And the best part about this is, by your words and actions you determine what they say. Principle Action: Start positive, end positive, and put positive in the middle.
  • Principle 9. Your friendliness and willingness to help is in direct proportion to your success. All things being equal, people want to do business with friends. All things being not quite equal, people want to do business with friends. The best way to get to be friends is to be friendly. How friendly are you? Principle Action: Start friendly, end friendly, and put friendly in the middle.
  • Principle 10. Company policy is written in terms of the company not the customer. It tells you what you can’t do for a customer not what you can do. Company policy and customer service are oxymorons. Customers NEVER want to hear the word “policy” Principle Action: When faced with a policy situation, start out by saying, “in order to be fair to everyone…”
  • Principle 11. Service is a feeling. You know what it is when you get it so give back the same thing or more. The simple secret is don’t give any feeling to others you wouldn’t want to feel. Principle Action: Remember how you felt the last time you got great service? Give that to your customers. Every day.
  • Principle 12. The secret to success of customer service is start with YES. Don’t give the customer a bunch of lame excuses or reasons you can’t do what they want. Give solutions, not excuses. Principle Action: Start your response with “the best way to get that done is…” or “The easiest (fastest) way to do that is…”

Major Service Success Clue: Institute a policy that states you must have a manager’s approval before you can tell a customer “no.”

  • Principle 12.5 The customers PERCEPTION of good or bad service is the measure of your success or failure. If the customer has a different customer service definition than we do, our definition is invalid. In the end, customer perception is all that matters. Principle Action: Master the elements of service that the customer considers most important. How do you find out what they are? You ask them (duh). How do you master them? You work at being your best every day.

Well, those are the principles don’t be discouraged if you read them and fall short of the mark there isn’t a Fortune 500 company within a country mile of understanding customer principles, let alone implementing them. If you just tackle one a principle a month, and get every employee in your company to understand it, and work it into their daily customer interaction, you can beat any big company to the punch (and the loyal customer) any day.

And for those of you Fortune 500 people reading this and thinking you have the program under control with your customer policies and practices just the way they are remember it was you that thought TQM was good. What happened to that? Same problem policies before principles.

Final Proof: It’s interesting to note that people are willing to die for their personal principles, but I doubt anyone ever died defending their company policy.

But the best thing about these 12.5 principles is that EVERY ONE OF THEM CAN BE IMPLEMENTED BY YOU TOMORROW WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF ANYONE. They can be enacted by YOU on behalf of (in spite of) your company. “Jeffrey,” you whine. “What if I get fired?” What boss in his right mind is going to say you’re too friendly, you’re fired or you’re talking entirely too positive, you’re fired.

Success challenge: Become a master of principles not policy.


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