According to the U.S Census Bureau, in 2010 there were 27.9 million small businesses. Add to that number tens of thousands of mid-sized businesses, and you start to see that you really have to stand out from the crowd if you want your business to stay current and necessary to customers. One way to stand out is to offer excellent customer service.

Key Parts of Customer Service

There are some key parts that make up good customer service. It makes sense to pay attention to all these points if you want to create a band of loyal followers who will continue to buy your product or service year after year.

Key Part # 1: Customer Culture

The first thing you must do is to make sure every employee understands just how important customers are to the success of your business. Each customer who interacts with anyone in your organization should feel this customer culture. Think about the last time you visited a business where they really put you first. You likely felt important from the first moment you interacted until the sale was completed.

Key Part # 2: Training Is Key

You might think that good customer service would be almost automatic for those working with clients and customers. However, this isn’t always the case. Some personalities are better suited for service than others. Choose the people who are friendly and pleasing to be your key service players. However, you should also train other employees as well, since there may be times when they interact with customers. Offer role playing scenarios to help employees improve customer service skills.

Key Part # 3: Fast Response

Customers expect a fast and definite response. Try to reduce times customers will be on hold and offer multiple ways they can contact your support department. If you are unable to keep up with call volume, hire a service center to help you with the increased needs. Just make sure they are trained in your company policies and customer service methods (see points 1 and 2 above).

Key Part # 4: Go Above and Beyond

Try to do a little something extra that your customers aren’t expecting. This will show your customers that you care about them and appreciate their business. It will also make you truly stand out from the crowd. For example, if someone registers for a cooking class, you could send them a free ebook with a top secret recipes you’ve collected over the years. If you’re teaching karate, give new students their first belt free. Try to tailor your extras to the target demographic on your radar.

Key Part # 5: Admit Mistakes and Fix Them

If a customer complains, first listen to the complaint. Even if you believe the complaint is not legitimate, the customer thinks that it is. The way you respond can make a difference in whether you retain that customer or she walks away from your company unhappy and ready to tell everyone about her bad experience.

  • Listen
  • Ask what the customer would like to see happen
  • Fix what you can
  • Ask if the customer is satisfied with the solution
  • Repeat the process

It’s also a good idea to follow up a few days later and see if the customer is still satisfied with the solution and service she received.

No matter what industry you’re in, customer service is one of the most important elements in retaining the customers you have and gaining new word of mouth customers. Take the time to establish some procedures and rules for your company, to train employees in your methods, and then make sure each and every customer feels extra special. This will help you stand out as a company with integrity that cares about its patrons.