Customers For Life: Mastering the Art of Exceptional Customer Service

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In the competitive landscape of modern business, the key to sustained success lies in building lasting relationships with your customers. Carl Sewell, in his influential book Customers For Life, provides a revolutionary approach to customer service that challenges conventional wisdom and offers practical strategies for creating loyal customers who return time and again. Central to Sewell’s philosophy are his Ten Commandments of Customer Service, which, when implemented, can transform how businesses interact with their clients.


The Ten Commandments of Customer Service


1. Bring ‘Em Back Alive

The cornerstone of Sewell’s customer service philosophy is understanding and meeting customer needs repeatedly. By actively listening to your customers and consistently delivering what they desire, you build trust and ensure repeat business.

2. Systems, Not Smiles

While a friendly demeanor is important, it is not enough to guarantee quality service. Establishing robust systems ensures that your team can consistently perform at a high level, delivering the right service every time. A systematic approach to customer service creates reliability that keeps customers coming back.

3. Under Promise, Over Deliver

Customers expect you to keep your word, but going beyond their expectations can leave a lasting impression. By promising less and delivering more, you create moments of delight that customers remember and talk about.

4. When the Customer Asks, the Answer Is Always ‘Yes’. Period.

Flexibility and a can-do attitude are crucial in customer service. When a customer makes a request, finding a way to say "yes" strengthens their trust and loyalty. This commitment to meeting customer needs without hesitation sets you apart from competitors.

5. Fire Your Inspectors and Consumer Relations Department

Empower every employee who interacts with customers to resolve issues on the spot. This not only speeds up problem resolution but also demonstrates trust in your employees’ judgment and a commitment to customer satisfaction.

6. No Complaints? Something’s Wrong

Complaints are valuable feedback. A lack of complaints may indicate that customers are taking their business elsewhere without telling you why. Encourage feedback and view complaints as opportunities to improve your service.

7. Measure Everything

In the same way sports teams analyze every aspect of their performance, businesses should measure customer service metrics. This data-driven approach helps identify areas for improvement and track progress over time.

8. Salaries Are Unfair

Adopt a partnership mindset with your employees by sharing profits and providing incentives based on performance. This fosters a sense of ownership and aligns their interests with the success of the business.

9. Your Mother Was Right

Basic manners go a long way. Showing respect, being polite, and treating customers with kindness create a positive atmosphere and enhance the customer experience.

10. Japanese Them

Look to the best practices of leading companies around the world, particularly those in Japan, known for their exceptional customer service. Learn from their systems, adapt them to your business, and continuously seek ways to improve.


The 3 R’s: Retention, Related Sales, Referrals

Sewell’s Ten Commandments are underpinned by his belief in the concept of Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), which is maximized through the 3 R’s:

  1. Retention: Keeping existing customers is more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. Implementing the Ten Commandments ensures that customers stay loyal.
  2. Related Sales: Satisfied customers are more likely to purchase additional products or services. By consistently meeting their needs, you open the door to more sales opportunities.
  3. Referrals: Happy customers are your best marketers. They will refer friends and family, bringing in new business without additional marketing costs.


By adopting Carl Sewell’s Ten Commandments of Customer Service, businesses can cultivate a culture of excellence that prioritizes customer satisfaction and loyalty. This approach not only enhances the customer experience but also drives long-term success through retention, related sales, and referrals. Remember, the ultimate goal is to create Customers For Life

If you want to do a deeper dive into the principles discussed in this blog, listen in to our shared webinar with experts from LMN by clicking HERE.