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As I was flipping through the Dallas Morning News this morning, a small book review caught my eye. “Rain,” is a new business parable that uses paperboys and the business of newspaper delivery as a case study. The author’s 10 Customer Service Commandments are worthy of review in this rotten economic environment, where companies must compete more aggressively for the available business.

On a personal note, this review resonated with me. In my junior high and high school years, I, too, delivered newspapers for the Tyler Morning Telegraph in Tyler, Texas, a small city 1.5 hours east of Dallas. This was a time when kids on bicycles were a key part of the news distribution system. Not anymore. This is just another part of Americana that has faded from view.

Today, as Chairman of JohnMarch Partners, an international executive search consultancy based in Dallas, we have developed our own customer commandments. Our commandments govern our service, the quality of our work product and being accountable for the tenure and performance of our recommended candidates. Most search firms brag about service and quality. Few mention the word accountability.

With credit to the Dallas Morning News and the reviewer, Jim Pawlak, I want to share the book review with you:
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This business parable takes many of us back to our first job – paperboy. We didn’t just deliver newspapers; we ran a business. We had to increase our customer base if we wanted to make more money. We learned and practiced customer service skills.

We dealt with our supplier (the newspaper) and knew the importance of on-time delivery (especially in bad weather). We managed delivery schedules around customer needs. We learned accounting and collected money.

Rain, the paperboy in this tale, reminds us of what should be done to build any business. Rain’s 10 Customer Commandments provide the key to customer satisfaction: 1. Thou shalt not fail to deliver. 2. Thou shalt not be late. 3. Thou shalt not be sick. 4. Thou shalt not be on vacation. 5. Thou shalt not be at camp. 6. Thou shalt not deliver wet, damaged or incomplete papers. 7. Thou shalt not have bike trouble. 8. Thou shalt not get lost. 9. Thou shalt not be tired. 10. Thou shalt not make excuses.

Think about how these apply to your business.
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In a final personal note, I must confess that at 4 AM, I struggled with Commandment number 9.

Jim Pawlak reviews business books for The Dallas Morning News.

John G. Self, Chairman and Founder of JohnMarch Partners, is the Firm’s senior client advisor. A 32-year veteran of the healthcare industry, he is a former investigative reporter and crime writer for a major daily newspaper. Candidates and clients say he is one of the most thorough executive recruiters working in the healthcare industry.