Astute readers will recognize a slight variation on Dale Carnegie’s mega-blockbuster, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Considered one of the world’s first self-help books, it’s also a classic treatise on how to create a thriving business.

In the workplace, everyone from the CEO on down would do well to take Carnegie’s message to heart. No business can survive — or thrive — for long, if it ignores its key component: customers.

Following are four simple steps you can implement to ensure that your customers know they’re needed, feel well cared for, and are delighted to be associated with your business:

  1. Take a tip from Hallmark. The greeting card giant’s motto is, “When you care enough to send the very best.” Treat your staff as the treasured resource they are: greet them with pleasure each morning, address them with respect, listen to their ideas and requests. They’re your customer’s first point of contact, and they’ll model your behavior when dealing with the public.
  2. Get personal. Do you know your customers as individuals? Do you recognize the regulars on sight, and call them by name? Such seemingly mundane actions make a huge impact. Consider: it’s one thing to receive a birthday card from Aunt Betty; quite a thrill to get one from the boutique where you shop, signed by the entire staff. Or a handwritten note included in a package you ordered.
  3. Acknowledge them. In the same vein, you can trumpet your customer support via a bandit sign that reads, “Super summer sale honors the world’s best customers!” Or place this information on a yard sign: “You’re the reason we’re #1!” You might even create a vinyl banner for milestone events, such as a customer’s 10th year with your business. Will this kind of appreciation help boost sales? You bet!
  4. Do your best to say yes. Whenever possible, take a leaf from retailer Marshall Field, who said, “Give the lady what she wants.” As long as it’s legal, accommodate special requests whenever possible.