Principle Before Policy – the New Rules for Customer Service.

Principle Before Policy – the New Rules for Customer Service.

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


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.”

Most companies and their employees have no idea what customers want, much less how to deliver what they want. Customers don’t want to hear stories or excuses, they only want to hear that you care about them personally, and what you are going to do about their problem right now. Here’s the rub: companies communicate about things and problems in terms of themselves and not in terms of the customer.

Customer service people give excuses about why they didn’t and why they can’t (stuff about them) instead of what will be done about it, and how to solve the problem (stuff about the customer).

When serving, the secret is “think other guy” first.

Why companies train employees adnausium about their policies is beyond me. Policies have nothing to do with success, principles have everything to do with the success of “people” that leads to the success of the “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 12.5 Principles of Customer Service Success. Train on these before you even dream of opening your policy book.

  • Principle 1. Your customer is your paycheck. Don’t be fooled by the signature at the bottom of your payroll check. The guy who signed the check didn’t put the money there, your customers did. No customers, no money. You should change your customer greeting to, “Hi, thanks for the food!” Your business is worthless, and your wallet is empty without funds provided by customers. Principle Action: The more you work for the customer’s success, the more you will earn.
  • Principle 2. Your attitude (the way you dedicate yourself to the way you think) determines the degree of excellence of service you will perform. Positive attitude is the foundation of your life and the determining factor of your ability to serve. Your positive attitude has the best possibility of creating positive customer perception of your entire company. How positive (enthusiastic and friendly) are the first words spoken to your customer? Principle Action: Read about positive attitude for 15 minutes each morning. Create and deliver positive first words. Do whatever it takes to maintain your positive attitude.
  • Principle 3. Customers call, contact or visit for one reason they need HELP. Most of the time we don’t give them help, we give them hell. They can’t get through without automated attendant, voice mail, or hassle. One of the cries of the mass consumer is, “You wouldn’t believe what I had to go through just to speak to a live human being.” When the customer finally gets through, they’re already mad or exasperated and of course, the response is, “our company policy states…” and the customer boils over. The customer will want to talk to you (and buy from you), if they believe that you can solve their problems (resolve their situations). If you gain their trust, they won’t call the competition, and they won’t be as price sensitive…They just want help, and comfort. Principle Action: Know why your customers call, and the BEST way to respond to each need.
  • Principle 4. The value of a customer is 20 times his annual sales volume. A $10,000 a year customer has a value of $200,000. That’s what you earn if you keep him, that’s what to fail to earn if you lose him. Do you spend as much to keep existing customers as you do attracting new ones? Principle Action: Every customer contact is an opportunity to earn the next sale. Be your best on every customer interaction.
  • Principle 5. A customer ready to repeat his purchase is a powerful business advantage. The quality of the relationship with your customers determines continuity more than the price of your products. Have you earned the right to the reorder? Is it easy to do business with you? Will you carry the sale or will your customer shop for price? Principle Action: Substitute relationship building strategies for sales techniques. Stay in front of your customer in times of “non-sale” as much as you do in times of “sale.”
  • Principle 6. Customer satisfaction is worthless. Satisfaction is no longer the acceptable standard of customer service. Satisfaction is no longer the acceptable measurement of customer service success. The standard and measure of success for the next millennium is loyal customers. Just because they’re satisfied doesn’t mean they’re loyal. How loyal are your customers? Less than you think. Principle Action: Understand what makes you loyal, and deploy those actions towards customers.

Rats, I’m out of space. The rest of the principles will appear here next week.


The Loyalty Building Formula. The 6.5 solution-oriented things you need to do that will get you on the path to measuring loyalty. Get yours now. Just go to, register if you’re a first time user, click Access Gitbit/Redbit and enter the word LOYAL in the GitBit box.