By Nancy Friedman, Keynote speaker, Customer Service Expert, President Telephone Doctor Customer Service 

FACT: The best weapon for a small business against the BIG guys is Customer Service.

It’s that simple. 

We will pay more for better service! So if you’re a small business owner and if you’re looking for ways to improve, read on. Telephone Doctor, an international customer service training company headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, believes in helping small businesses get better at communicating with their customers. 

To get off on the right foot with your customers, whether you’re a large or small retailer, whether your customers come to you via the phone or in person, here are the Telephone Doctor’s Six Cardinal Rules of Customer Service. 

Adapting these easy steps will make your day, and more importantly, make the customer’s day a better experience for you and your company. 

Cardinal Rule # 1 – People Before Paperwork 

When someone walks into your place of business, or calls you while you’re working on something, drop everything for that person. Remember, paper can wait, people should not. We’ve all been abused when we go shopping and been ignored and we know how that feels. Let’s not abuse our own customers. Remember: People before paperwork. 

Cardinal Rule # 2 – Rushing Threatens Customers 

Sure, you may understand something real quick, but rushing the customer along will only lead to them feeling intimidated and you won’t see them coming back to you. Take it easy. Remember, speed is not success! Trying to be “done” with a customer as quickly as possible is seen as being rude and uncaring. Take your time with each and every contact. 

Cardinal Rule # 3 – Company Jargon 

Ever get a report from a company and not understand it? Some companies have company jargon 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. Don’t abbreviate. Remember, don’t use military language on civilians. 

Cardinal Rule # 4 – 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 coming down, as you do going up. They’ll remember you. (What’s worse than being busy? NOT being busy.) 

Cardinal Rule # 5 – “Uh huh” is not ‘Thank You’ — “There ya go” is not ‘You’re Welcome’ 

How often do you hear these slang phrases? We need to remember ‘Thank you’ and ‘You’re welcome’ are beautiful words. The customer cannot hear them too often. However, if you’re telling your customers to “have a nice day,” please say it with meaning! I recently had a checkout clerk tell the FLOOR to have a nice day. She wouldn’t look at me. Make eye contact when you’re saying something nice. 

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

There’s a good lesson to be learned here. The Telephone Doctor motto is: SMILE BEFORE you know who it is. It will earn you many 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. 

Any one of these tips will boost your customer service!

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.