By Nancy Friedman Telephone Doctor 

There are a lot of ‘rules’ in customer service, but few more important than the six we’ve listed here. Each makes a valid statement and will increase the satisfaction of your clients. 

Cardinal Rule #1 – Personal Responsibility/Accountability: Don’t Pass the Buck 

In a recent survey, we found that “responsibility/accountability” is the number one characteristic employers want from their employees. 

Oh, there are lots of characteristics they’d like; however, the one that rose to the top consistently was responsibility/accountability. 

One of the most important attributes a team player can have is personal responsibility – personal accountability. Those that have it refuse to accuse, blame and complain. 

Those that do accuse, blame and complain break one of the most important cardinal rules. “Who” statements accuse and blame. “Who took my stapler?” A more positive manner might be: “I seem to have misplaced my stapler; has anyone seen it?” 

Remember to take full responsibility with the customer. The customer doesn’t like to hear accusing, blaming and complaining statements. They know when you’re passing the buck! 

Cardinal Rule #2 – People Before Paperwork 

When someone walks into your place of business or calls you while you’re working on something, Cardinal Rule #2 says drop everything. Put what you’re doing DOWN. Attend to that person. Remember, paperwork and other tasks can wait, people should not. Most of us have experienced being abused when we go shopping and have been ignored because the staffer is doing something else. We feel we’re more important than whatever they’re doing. Most of the time there isn’t even any eye contact to say “one moment please” or “I’ll be with you shortly.” Which doesn’t make it right; but at least there was some form of contact. 

Let’s not abuse our own customers. Remember: People before paperwork. 

Cardinal Rule #3 – Don’t RUSH Your Customers 

Sure, you may understand something real quick, but rushing the customer along will only lead to them feeling intimidated. Very often it’s the first time the customer is hearing, learning or finding out about something that you’ve done over and over. 

And it’s a good thing to remember to mirror their speed. A slow talker or a senior person won’t take to being “done with” by you. Trying to be “done” with a customer as quickly as possible is seen as being rude and uncaring.

Rushing threatens customers. Take your time with each and every contact. 

Cardinal Rule #4 – Company Jargon 

Well we have text now so there are even more folks doing jargon. KWIM (Know what I Mean?); BRB (Be right back); IDK (I don’t know). There is a BOOK of texting terms. It’s a real OMG. 

Ever get a report from a company and not understand it? Some companies have company jargon, words and phrases that makes the CIA wonder what’s up. Be very careful not to use your own company jargon on your customers. You and your employees may understand it very well, but the customer may not. And you’ll only cause a lot of unnecessary confusion. Spell things out for your customers. Use easy words. Try not to abbreviate. As we say, remember, don’t use military language on civilians. 

Cardinal Rule #5 – Don’t Be Too Busy To Be Nice 

Hey, everyone’s busy! That’s what it’s all about. Being busy does not give you carte blanche to be rude. Remember, you meet the same people going down as you do going up. They’ll remember you. (What’s worse than being busy? NOT being busy!) I kept this short because I figure it’s easy to understand. The old golden rule: Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. 

Cardinal Rule # 6 – Be Friendly BEFORE You Know Who It Is 

There’s a good lesson to be learned here. Telephone Doctor says: “Smile BEFORE you know who it is.” Often times it’s too late. Being friendly before you know who it is will earn you classic customer service points. The customer needs to know you want to work with them no matter who they are. Remember, sometimes it’s way too late to smile and be friendly after you know who it is. 

Caller ID is not all it’s cracked up to be. Many folks use other people’s phones, extensions, etc. I have horror story after horror story about folks who picked up the phone “thinking” they knew who was on the line and said something inappropriate…only to find out…wrong person! 

Any one of these tips can boost your customer service! 

# # # #


Nancy Friedman, President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training is a featured speaker at franchise, association and corporate meetings around the world. She has appeared on OPRAH, Fox News, The Today Show, CNN, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning. Her articles have been published in the Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY, as well as hundreds of other print outlets. She is also the author of eight best-selling books. For more information, log onto the or call Nancy at 314 291 1012. You’ll be glad you did.


Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman

Communication and customer service expert Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor, founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is back in the saddle again. Well, back into live onsite programs, and still offering her ZOOM programs, in a cost saving manner. Whichever you choose, onsite or Zoom, you’ll be glad you did. The reviews are excellent, and audiences have loudly applauded her in either area. Sales, customer service and communication skills are her area of expertise, and she welcomes calls, texts, or emails. You can reach her directly at; through the website at, where you can sign up for her newsletters; or call/text directly at 314-276-1012 central time. Bring it on. Whether you need a keynote speaker or workshop/breakout speaker on customer service and communication skills, you’ll make a great choice.