Wednesday, May 25, 2005

T.I.P.S. 101** Ferengi Rules

Ferengi Rules
By Gil C. Schmidt

I love “Star Trek,” in all its incarnations. One of the best aspects was the development of alien races that had a depth and personality all their own, such as the Vulcans, Klingons and the Ferengi.

Large-eared, almost rodent-like in features, the Ferengi are, well… acquisitive. Okay, they’re greedy. For the Ferengi, acquiring Latinum (their “gold”) is the end-all and be-all of their existence. (Uh, for the males only. But let’s not go there.) As a guide to their ambition in life, the Ferengi have “Rules of Acquisition,” many of which are geared to—fleecing—the “opposition” in the pursuit of profits.

Now what could a fictional race of greedy cheating thieves (Ferengi that display these traits are known as “wealthy leaders”) teach us real folk about Customer Service? Plenty. Of the mythical “285 Rules,” four of them stand out as wisdom for any race:

Rule 26: As the customers go, so goes the wise profiteer. Too many businesses fail because they forget that serving the customer—serving the right customers—is absolutely essential to success. You have to find the customers first and follow their lead. When they change, you must change with them.

Rule 51: Reward anyone who adds to your profits so they will continue to do so. It sounds so simple and yet, how often it is forgotten! The Ferengi state much the same in Rule 50: Gratitude can bring on generosity. It’s a point so important even greedy little profit-mongers state it twice!

Rule 57: Good customers are as rare as Latinum. Treasure them. Do you really need an alien to remind you of this?

Rule 119: Never judge a customer by the size of his wallet. (Sometimes, good things come in small packages.) It is a common mistake to look at the “small” customer as insignificant. Please don’t make it, and if you have, please don’t repeat it. Customers are never isolated “wallets”: they are connected to a network of other “wallets”—other customers—that can make or break your business. Treat them all well and your business will benefit all the time.

Take these Rules as “messages from beyond the galaxy” and make them your Earth-bound guides. But pay no attention whatsoever to Rule 65: Win or lose, there's always Huyperian beetle snuff.

Note: Thanks to my good friend Roberto Filomeno for the “Rules”!


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