Wise Words from Stephen Sondheim

by Chris Bjorklund

In a recent Stephen Sondheim radio interview, the famous composer and lyricist made an interesting comment. “Familiarity breeds content,” he said, and that struck a chord (pardon the pun) with me. This is a play on the well-known saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.”

Sondheim started me thinking about the meaning of his phrase as it applies to customer service and satisfaction. What came to mind was the contentment I feel when I have a long-term, on-going personal relationship with a provider. When I need my trees trimmed, I know Joe will take care of it, no problem. Toilet back-up? I have George’s phone number at my fingertips. I don’t need to shop around for another carpet cleaner; Ofer’s familiar with my house. My guy knows what to do and how to do it.

Familiarity also means getting to know the person(s) who provides the service. I often learn something about their families, where they’re from, what their goals are for growing their businesses, and who their favorite sports teams or musical groups are. And they know a lot about me too. These are the best kind of business relationships in my opinion. Do you agree?