Mahatma Gandhi apparently had something to say about customers, though I for one would never have guessed that he had any interest in business generally or customers specifically, at all. He was much better known for being an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist who had once laboured in the sugar plantations of South Africa.

Anyway, what he is purported to have said is: “A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us, we are dependent on him. He is not an interruption of our work, he is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider on our business, he is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him, he is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.”

Wise words. The only exception I would add is that if a customer turns out to be such a pain in the neck that it’s not worth keeping him or her, “firing” them is in order. Life is too short.

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