Book Reviews

Customer Focus: The Three Rules

Written By: Joe Calloway

Every “Category of One” company excels at following and living by three rules:


Rule 1: Know more about the customer than anyone else.

Rule 2: Get closer to the customer than anyone else.

Rule 3: Emotionally connect with the customer better than anyone else.


In a customer-driven market, which we are in and will be in for the foreseeable future, there are no substitutes for knowing more about, getting closer to and emotionally connecting with the customer.

These three customer rules are actions that take place simultaneously. When you know more about the customer than anyone else, you have the ability to get closer than anyone else, and you then begin to connect emotionally. Combining these three actions will give you the single greatest competitive advantage in business.

I have always remembered something taught by the great sales trainer Tom Hopkins. Hopkins always said that your first goal as a salesman is to have the customer “like you and trust you.” I agree with this idea, but it’s not the starting point. Having the customer like and trust you is what happens when you get closer and establish an emotional connection. The process begins with knowing more about that customer.

A great chef was once asked what his favorite restaurant was. He said that his favorite restaurant was the one where they knew him. When I ask my audiences to name their favorite company and why, the most common reason is that the company knows them, calls them by name, remembers what they like, understands them and can make recommendations based on that understanding.

There are a lot of companies out there that would be very surprised if they could read the minds of some of their best customers. Here’s what their customers are thinking, “You think that because we’ve been doing business with you for a long time that we’re a sure thing. Well, we’re looking around. We’re getting the feeling that you’ve stopped hustling for our business. We get the feeling that you’ve got your eye on some new potential customers out there and that you’re paying a lot of attention to them. Your good thing is about to go bad, because we will fire you. We will find somebody new. Somebody who treats us like we want to be treated.  Somebody who, after years and years of business, will reward that loyalty and shower us with all the good things we deserve.”

Departure signals are imminent, but many companies don’t see them. They’re so anxious to go out there and drum up new business that they can’t see their best customers are about to walk out the back door. Today’s customer will leave in a heartbeat if she thinks she’s being ignored or taken for granted. Beware the trap of trying to get close to new business when your old business is feeling neglected.

I will often ask my clients if they believe that it’s necessary to have an emotional connection with their customers. While some of them are surprised by the question, after a bit of thought, almost all of them agree that you do need to connect emotionally with customers, especially if your aim is to defy comparison with your competitors. Most people will say they want their customers to love doing business with them. If ever there was an emotion, surely it’s love. It’s extremely difficult to get to that “Category of One” status with your customers without creating a strong emotional connection with them.

Emotional connection is created over time, with a series of actions. It’s almost always small actions that take place on a personal level. Disney employees waving at the passing train, Ritz Carlton employees who say hello to each guest they pass in the hallways, the orthodontist’s staff that sends flowers, the computer service rep who remembers your children’s names and asks about them—it’s tiny actions by regular people that create the most powerful force in business.

Joe Calloway is a performance coach and advisor who helps great companies get even better. He is the author of four ground-breaking business books and is a member of the Speakers Hall of Fame.  To learn more about Joe, visit 

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