One of my classes in management focused on the repeat customer. The course emphasized the importance of the repeat customer to the financial wellbeing of the company. We spent hours discussing ways to turn "first time" buyers into repeat customers. This is not a new concept. We've all heard the term "customer is always right." And then there's the film we see every Christmas at Macy tries to get out "customer satisfaction" Gimbel. I prefer to take this concept one step further with what I consider the most valuable asset of a company, loyal customer. The loyal customer is going to buy your product or service, even though it is more expensive or personal inconvenience.

The loyal customer is the one who will recommend to its competitors. The loyal customer is one that will stand up and defend your business against unfair comments. The loyal customer is going to teach their children to buy your product or service, that may depend on your company to deal fairly and honestly. American companies, large and small, have been built on the backs of loyal customers. In his inaugural speech, President Bush declared: "As citizens we must uphold the principles of civility, courage, compassion, and character that requires a civil society in each of us." Civility is a word you do not hear much more. As companies have merged and investor pressure has increased, companies have lost their civility. The concepts of respect and fairness that have been the cornerstones of American businesses are crumbling.