Customer-Focused Management

Customer service is a continuum of human behaviors...shared with those we meet.

By Hank Moore, Corporate Strategist

In today’s highly competitive business environment, every dynamic of a successful organization must be pointed toward ultimate customers. Customer-focused management goes beyond service and quality. There is no business that cannot improve its customer orientation. Every organization has customers, clients, stakeholders, financiers, volunteers, supporters, or other categories of “affected constituencies.”

Customer-focused management is a concept that goes far beyond just smiling, answering queries, and communicating with buyers. It transcends customer service training. Companies must change their focus from products and processes to the values they share with customers.

Customer-focused management goes beyond just the dynamics of service and quality. Everyone with whom you conduct business is a customer or referral source of someone else. The service we get from some people, we pass along to others. Customer service is a continuum of human behaviors…shared with those we meet.

Customers are the lifeblood of every business. Employees depend upon customers for their paychecks. Yet, you wouldn’t know the correlation when poor customer service is rendered. Employees often behave as though customers are a bother, do not heed their concerns, and do not take suggestions for improvement.

Here are a few quotes on courtesy, customer service, and corporate manners to keep top of mind:

  • “The customer is always right.”—H. Gordon Selfridge
  • “The greater man, the greater courtesy.”—Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)
  • “There are two little words that can open any door with ease. One little word is thanks, and the other is please. Good manners are never out of style.”—Pinky Lee, 1950”s children”s TV star
  • “We are born charming, fresh, and spontaneous and must be civilized before we are fit to participate in society. It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help. Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.”—Judith Martin, (Miss Manners)
  • “We don’t bother much about dress and manners in England, because as a nation we don’t dress well and we have no manners.”—George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
  • “Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.”—Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
  • “Do thou restrain the haughty spirit in thy breast, for better far is gentle courtesy.”—Homer
  • “Don’t forget to say please and thank you.”—Captain Kangaroo, children”s TV star
  • “Don’t flatter yourself that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. The nearer you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact and courtesy become. Except in cases of necessity, which are rare, leave your friend to learn unpleasant things from his enemies; they are ready enough to tell them.”—Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)
  • “Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy.”—Jacques Maritain (1882-1973)
  • “All legislation, all government, all society is founded upon the principle of mutual concession, politeness, comity, courtesy; upon these everything is based. Let him who elevates himself above humanity, above its weaknesses, its infirmities, its wants, its necessities, say, if he pleases, I will never compromise; but let no one who is not above the frailties of our common nature disdain compromises.”—Henry Clay (1777-1852)
  • “Discourtesy does not spring merely from one bad quality, but from several—from foolish vanity, from ignorance of what is due to others, from indolence, from stupidity, from distraction of thought, from contempt of others, from jealousy.”—Jean de la Bruyere (1645-1696)
  • “Don’t reserve your best behavior for special occasions. You can’t have two sets of manners, two social codes—one for those you admire and want to impress, another for those you consider unimportant. You must be the same to all people.”—Lillian Eichler Watson
  • “Associate with well-mannered persons and your manners will improve. Run around with decent folk and your own decent instincts will be strengthened.”—Stanley Walker

A regular contributor to, Hank Moore has advised 5,000-plus client organizations worldwide (including 100 of the Fortune 500, public sector agencies, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations). He guides companies through growth strategies, visioning, strategic planning, executive leadership development, Futurism, and Big Picture issues that profoundly affect the business climate. Moore conducts company evaluations, creates the big ideas, and anchors the enterprise to its next tier. The Business Tree is his trademarked approach to growing, strengthening, and evolving business, while mastering change. His current book is “The Business Tree,” published by Career Press. Moore also speaks at conferences and facilitates corporate retreats on strategy. He has advised two U.S. Presidents and spoken at five Economic Summits. To read his complete biography, visit

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.