Return on Behavior Magazine
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Customer Experience

September 9th, 2010

Quit Treating Customers Like Terrorists

Now that’s a strong statement, however, author Marianna Chapman, President of HALO Business Advisors looks at why this is very relevant today in all the different industries.

Terrorists are folks with whom we should never negotiate. We have a policy of “no negotiation,” and we should stick with it – because the potential for recourse is too scary. Negotiating with terrorists could lead to chaos, anarchy or being overtaken by the manipulations of the enemy. Terrorists are enemies that harass and threaten our safety and security.

Do you look at your customers as enemies who harass you, threaten you or risk your safety and security? I hope not. But if you really squint, you might realize that deep down maybe you sometimes do view them this way.

Do you treat your small business customers with generosity, patience, respect? Or do you answer their questions briskly with distraction? Do you give them your full attention at every point of interaction – or are you bothered by their interruption? When you mess up – or they are confused about how to use or engage with your products or services the best way, are you wary of helping them fix their problem? Are you afraid that you will open a can of worms if you do the right thing? Does your safety and security feel threatened by the potential of fixing customer problems?

There are a million other scenarios that I could suggest along this realm, but let me stop with those, and instead point you to a better way.

Customers are NOT terrorists.

Let me challenge you to change your attitude and perspective towards your customers today. No matter how positively you feel towards your customers, there is always room to improve and kick it up another notch, so to speak. Here are some ways you can change your attitude toward your customers – and in turn, drastically improve your customer loyalty, customer retention – and yes, grow your business simply and aggressively.

  1. View your customers and their problems as your primary marketing opportunity each and every day.
  2. Remember that remarkable customer service experiences lead to many remarks by the customer to their many friends (often 100s of friends on social networks).
  3. Consider the lifetime value of the customer in relation to fixing the small problem or time spent giving personal service, explanation or help today.
  4. Remember that word of mouth marketing is the best marketing you can never buy (or if you make folks unhappy – the worst marketing you can never buy your way out of).
  5. Remember that going through a trial with your customer will make them more loyal and mean more steady and secure income for you for a long time to come.

Try This Idea.

Dedicate a portion of your small business marketing budget and time to fix problems in a way that far exceeds “making it right” and that makes your customer exceedingly happy about you and your business.

What do you think? How can you grow your small business by taking advantage of problems today?

About the Author

Marianna Chapman

Marianna Hayes Chapman is co-founder of The Results Revolution project and President of HALO Business Advisors.


The Results Revolution teaches local small business owners and community leaders how to strengthen and grow their local economies. The Results Revolution provides entrepreneurship training in the form of a blog as well as a weekly web TV show, e-mail newsletter and webinar.


HALO Business Advisors helps locally owned restaurants & businesses, community organizations and small media companies increase sales and create new revenue streams using social media and new media.

Marianna is a highly sought after speaker whose passion and vision for small business owners and their local communities is contagious. Her advice has been featured in numerous local and national print and web publications including the Wall Street Journal,, MSN on Main, and




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