"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 of our 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 quote above is widely contributed to an unlikely source. It didn't come from a CEO, a business writer or a customer service expert. The author of these words was well-known, but not for his position in the business world. Mahatma Gandhi, famous for his stand against violence and for advocating a simple life, spoke these words in a speech he delivered ... in 1890!
Although not a businessman or CEO, Gandhi was still a powerful, influential man, and these are powerful words. Some question whether he truly was the author of this quote, but many sources indicate that he was, so for now, we will accept that he spoke these words as we take a closer look at the meaning.
It's not difficult to believe that words spoken by a peace-seeking activist could cross over into the business world. At the heart of the quote lies a simple idea: treat another person the way he or she should be treated. It is the basic idea underlying good customer service. If your employees all adopted this basic philosophy and put it into practice, with both internal and external customers, your organization would be an amazing place for customers and staff alike.
Let's take a closer look:
"A customer is the most important visitor on our premises." If not for the customer, where would your business be? Offer a warm welcome, whether it be in person, on the phone, or even if your business is web-based. Make the customer feel comfortable and appreciated.
"He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him." Do our customers depend on us? Hopefully, the answer is yes. But, whereas the customer relies on our product or service, an organization depends on customers' continued patronage for its very existence. No customers, no sales, no cash flow ... eventually, no survival.
"He is not an interruption on work. He is the purpose of it." If we are treating customers as an interruption, attitudes need to be adjusted — quickly. Customers should be made to feel welcome. When a customer enters (or calls) our place of business, he or she deserves our full attention.
"He is not an outsider to our business. He is part of it." Make customers feel at home, not like an outsider — that feeling of belonging will go a long way in creating customer loyalty. And, if they don't get it from you, they may seek it from your competitor.
"We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity to do it." Everyone wants to feel appreciated. Let the customer know you are grateful for his business. Remember, your existence relies on the customer, not the other way around.
This is a quote to remember and live by. Share it with your coworkers and associates. Put it into practice and see what happens. You won't be disappointed.