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Three Old-School Business Philosophies for the New-Tech Era

By Cynthia (“Cindy”) Bates is the Vice President of Microsoft’s US SMB Organization

When it comes to business, the old saying rings true: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Though the digital revolution has catapulted business into new directions and new ways of operating, there are certain business principles that stand the test of time. Over the course of my career, and in my daily interactions with my team, our partners and our SMB customers, a few key principles have been tried and true in helping me achieve my business goals:

1. The customer is always right.The well-known Connecticut-based supermarket chain Stew Leonard’s makes its version of this customer service policy very visible to all who enter. Etched into a three-ton rock at the entrance of each of the chain’s four stores are the policy:

  1. The customer is always right.
  2. If the customer is ever wrong, re-read rule #1

Perhaps one of the best known business philosophies, this type of customer orientation tends to earn a great reputation and loyal customers for businesses who effectively deploy it. But it also helps a business and its employees to develop empathy for the customer, leading to the development of products and services that actually meet the customer’s needs. And it’s not necessarily that the customer is literally always right, but another hidden value of this orientation is that it focuses employees not on blame and excuses, but on finding a solution to any issue that arises.

2. Nothing beats good old-fashioned networking. People do business with people they know and like. That makes networking just as important today as ever. Whether at community events, industry conferences or a gathering of local business people, getting out to introduce yourself and your business to real people can be one of the most important ways of building your business. The trick is to use technology to help you extend your network far beyond your immediate community. For example, LinkedIn will be integrated into the new Office and will provide extensive profile information on any connection who emails you, helping you take business relationships to the next level through a deeper personal connection. You will be able to network throughout the day as you work while discovering new information about those with whom you communicate for work.

3. You need to get out and see your customers. Meeting face-to-face with your customers at their location adds chemistry and clarification to the content of your business communications. In our global business community, however, one-to-one meetings often can be expensive and difficult to schedule, but Microsoft Office 365 technology can help you make those house calls virtually. With applications like Lync and Skype, you and your customer can sit at the same virtual table, collaborating through video, audio and documents to reinforce your business relationship.

The philosophies that brought us to where we are may change shape, but they never go out of style. What other old-school business principles are you incorporating in your business? Share them in the comments below.

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