THE BLOG
01/14/2011 05:30 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

20 Most Important Words for Your Small Business

Words are powerful things. And what they mean has a big influence on your customers' expectations. It is important in your business to understand and define each term for your company and customers. It will make a big difference in how your company grows.

1. Belief: What people think and accept as true. May not correlate with facts. Have great sticking power, even when they are wrong.

2. Complain: What a customer does when they are unhappy. They complain to themselves, to friends, on the Web, and even sometimes to you.

3. Disney: A place where most customers are always happy. This takes a lot of employee training.

4. Empowerment: Training employees to make decisions on their own to help a customer without talking to "the boss."

5. Feedback: Giving the customer the opportunity to tell you what they think at many different stages of interaction, and the opportunity to do it in many different ways depending on what is convenient and appropriate for them. Something smart companies listen to and take to heart. Associated with the Three Times Rule--if you hear something about your business three times, whether you like it or not, pay serious attention. It is probably true.

6. Forever: Relative time the customer feels they need to wait.

7. Happy: An impossible dream that is sometimes worth the pursuit. No business strategy in the world can make all customers happy.

8. Humans: Who every customer wants to talk to when they call your company.

9. Kick the Cat: What employees do when they take their frustrations out on the customer. Blowing a situation out of proportion. The kiss of death for a company.

10. Mistake: The hardest thing for the company (or the customer) to admit.

12. My Manager: The person the customer is seemingly always getting passed to or who always gets blamed by the employee if something goes wrong. The catcher in "passing the buck."

13. Overpromise: Making a commitment to a customer or to all customers that the company is not economically able to keep.

14. Patience: What businesses think customers ought to have. What customers think they have a lot of.

15. Peer Reviews: Online references written by customers on the level of quality or service in your company. Sometimes called an open reputation system.

16. Pest: A customer the company may need to fire to be more profitable.

17. Promise: A solemn commitment to a customer that the company will honor and the customer will not forget.

18. Self Service: Tools such as kiosks and Web tools for customers to assist themselves. Not always linked to satisfaction, but increasingly linked to high expectations of a quick turnaround.

19. Survey: A mostly ineffective means of getting customer feedback, especially when the company bribes the customer to do it.

20. Voice Mail Jail: Every customer's nightmare, especially if they do not get a call back.

What important words would you add?