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In Ancient Rome, after he built an arch, the engineer in charge was expected to stand beneath it as the scaffolding was removed. If the arch did not hold, he was the first to know! A great example of keeping ownership where it belongs!

In today’s business environment, when business owners keep lifting the weight off the shoulders of their staff, the staff never learns to build their own muscle. Here’s what I’m talking about. When your customers need attention, make sure your employees know how to take care of them. If your employees do not do this well, you are losing market share because customer care and customer service are your only sustainable competitive advantage. If your customers feel the love, they will stay with you. If they don’t, usually they will leave without telling you why.

An example will serve to illustrate the point. A customer (real story) needs to return a few items that were not the correct size for a project. The customer has a receipt and explains the situation. The customer service representative smiles, but her body language is communicating something very different. Annoyance – anger? There is definitely something being communicated and it isn’t, “I value your patronage of our business. Thank you for being our customer.” The transaction is completed with little exchange in the way of spoken words. When the return receipt is handed to the customer, she says, “thank you”, the employee says, “sure”. What would be your reaction to this interchange? Would you be apt to do business with this company again? Or would you think twice about how Little Miss Huffy treated you?

If you were to suggest to LMH (Little Miss Huffy) that she didn’t treat the customer with care and consideration, she would assert that she smiled and performed the transaction according to policy, and she would be correct – right? However, what LMH isn’t acknowledging is her body language and what that communication to the customer. No sharp or angry words were exchanged, but there was a big message in the silence.

When in Rome…


As a business owner, you need to stand under the arch. The arch of your business is how your customers are being treated by your employees. Would your arch hold up? How do you know? Do you really know?

Be careful to know and understand the customer’s story before you criticize the customer to your staff. Your staff needs to witness you speaking well of and supporting your customers. They are precious and valuable assets. Treat them as such.

I hear many small business owners speak disparagingly about their customers, and this is a very dangerous practice. If you find yourself doing this, STOP immediately. This is weakening the arch of your business.

I would love to hear about policies you have in place to protect your most valuable asset…your customers! Feel free to leave me a comment below and if you know someone who might benefit from keeping this idea in mind, please do share this blog with them!



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