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This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.
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Over 100 Strategies for Providing Outstanding Customer Service

 
119 Ways to create the ultimate customer service experience

The best differentiator for a business is providing an outstanding, memorable (in a good way) customer experience.  I reached out to experts and entrepreneurs for insights on how businesses can make customers feel like kings and queens and create strong customer loyalty.  I am thrilled to present more than 100 ways you can provide outstanding customer service (in no particular order). You may notice some similar themes, but I kept the insights separate as they were framed differently (and are frankly just that important).

1. Simple and Sweet

The easiest way for customers to realize your intentions is to simply listen to them. How many dollars are lost everyday at retailers with policies and procedures that are often quoted over and over again? Doing the right thing requires patience, the ability to listen and to follow through on your word. Follow this "mantra" and you will be forever regarded above your competitors. Knowing that problem customers (if you allow yourself to think that way) are only a minute part of your business!
Thanks to: Alan Ginsberg of The Entrepreneur's Source.

2. Don't Serve, Give Service

The service secret sauce is to be 'of service' to your customers, anything else is a functional discharge of duty... To be 'of service' to your customers you have to be in the moment and requires your full attention; once you're there, the experience created is unique (and unavailable at any other time or place). Being aware and conscious of the need to be 'of service' means providing outstanding customer service is the default setting... it takes a lot to mess it up from that mental state!
Thanks to: Phil Osborne.

3. ONE Customer, 30,000 Times

It's no secret. Treat each customer as if they were the only customer you have ever had. There's NO EXCUSE for lack of personal attention. Making it easy to buy is good upfront customer service.

Part 2 is about what a company does when it glitches. EVERY company glitches. When we glitch, we 1) respond quickly, 2) take ownership of the problem, 3) provide a remedy. We've had customers become REPEAT customers AFTER they've experienced a glitch with us!
Thanks to: Jeff Block of JustPaperRoses.com.

4. Be Your Own Customer

Experience your business as one of its clients/customers. Get in the mindset of your target market-considering needs, fears, concerns and previous experiences with competitors. Contact your company and go through the steps of becoming a customer.

What were your expectations going in? What did your company promise-through its brand, marketing, pre-engagement activities and contracts? As a customer, were your needs adequately addressed? Did you feel valued? Were your expectations exceeded?
Thanks to: Stacy Robin of The Degania Group.

5. Surprise 'Em with a Gift

Aside from being referred by their provider with a specific need, they are always blown away that I've listened for their unspoken request and filled it without saying a word, or charging extra for it! It's like having Christmas all year long!
Thanks to: Adelaide Zindler of HomeOfficeMommyMagazine.com.

6. Customer Appreciation Day

I strongly suggest you have a customer appreciation day once a year. It might be a good idea to have it during one of your duller periods. Invite your customers to a grand entertainment event at a hotel/resort and have a nice carnival type/recreation event, introduce yourself, your staff, get to know your customers and thank them for shopping with you. Let them have a ball, just celebrating that you have so many customers and acknowledging their business will make them feel special.
Thanks to: Vinil Ramdev of StartUp Growth Expert.

7. Create a Fond Memory

Take a photo of your customer as they are enjoying the product or service that you provided. Make the photo the front page of a Thank You card. Write a message inside the card that features the advantages and benefits of your product or service.

If appropriate, make an 11 x 14 print and frame it. Deliver it to your customer and help them hang it where others will see it and ask about the photo. That gets your customer to talk to prospects and you get referrals.
Thanks to: Thomas Hemphill of Hemphill Iron Works.

8. Listen with Your Heart

In this crowded world, it's important to be heard and actually listened to. So many times we're rushing, multi-tasking and trying to talk business to new clients and regular customers. My advice is to grab a pen and paper, move away from the computer keyboard and take notes while your customer or client is chatting with you. You'll discover clarity, concern and kindness for those you work for and with.

Listening with your heart helps customers know you really care.
Thanks to: Tammy Brackett of Moonstruck Promotions.

9. Be Giving

I've always been a believer in giving my clients more than they ask for. Over-delivering surprises and delights them, makes them feel special, and makes your experience with them memorable. Even when the project has been completed, I continue to send them relevant information for the project in an effort to keep them informed and to let them know the project was meaningful to me. Great customer service experience will translate into repeat business and/or fantastic referrals with co-workers.
Thanks to: Sandie Glass of Sandstorm inc..

10. Go Ahead, Make My Day

We ask the wrong customer service question. Forget "How can I help you?" Ask, "How can I make your day better?" or "How can I make you feel more satisfied?"
Thanks to: Barry Moltz of BarryMoltz.com.

11. Be Generous with Your Time

I want my clients to know how very important they are to me every time I communicate with them. Consequently, I never rush a phone call or a meeting... and always end the meeting 'only' when the client wants it to end, not me. Does this screw up my schedule sometimes? Absolutely. But in the end, if my client feels completely appreciated, it was well worth it. You can't fake true customer care, so fall in love with your customers! And be very generous with your time - and respectful of theirs!
Thanks to: David Sears of YouFloral.com.

12. Find a Way to Give

Find a way to give rather than look for what to get in all of your interactions with your customers. It may seem like a cliche and somewhat of a paradox, but it does seem to be true that the more you give the more you receive. The only way to see if this is really so is to put it into practice and see for yourself. Many wealthy people have said that they became wealthy by helping other people to become wealthy first. Giving is not an afterthought to success, it is the foundation.
Thanks to: Jeffrey Gitterman of Beyond Success Consulting.

13. Creating the Ultimate Customer

My tip is easy. It is communication. Once a week I E-mail my clients with a status report. Good News, Bad News or No News, it gives a feeling that they are my only client. Response from my clients is always positive, they appreciate my work, attention to detail and sincerity. When a modification to our business relationship is called for, my clients recommend a change before I have to ask for one. This tip not only creates happy customers and it leads to many referrals.
Thanks to: William Michael of Vallarta Escapes.

14. Is it My Turn Yet?

"Is there anything you would like to add before I respond?" Wouldn't you love to hear that instead of "may I have your account # please!"
Thanks to: Rosanne D'Ausilio PhD` of Human Technologies Global Inc.

15. Employee/Customer Link

If you want your customers to be treated like your most valuable resource, begin by treating your employees as your most valuable asset.

Many companies describe their employees as their most valuable asset. But for many of those companies their words ring hollow as their deeds do not match their words. It has been proven time and again that the interactions that your employees have with your customers are key to customer sat and how those employees view their own treatment has a huge impact.
Thanks to: Jeffrey Saltzman of OrgVitality.

16. Call Your Mother!

We provide full-spectrum support for law students (personal trainers, but for the mind). For students, family support is key, and grad school is isolating. Many parents are paying, and we reach out directly. With clients' permission, we call Mom & Dad to update them on the ups and downs of law school life. We create not only accountability for our work, but also help families be supportive. The return on this 15 minute-investment is serious brand loyalty from the whole family.
Thanks to: Elura Nanos of Morange Workshops.

17. No Client Bashing Allowed

Enforce a "No Client Bashing" rule at your place of business.

Customer service is about how you think and when you think negative thoughts about a person, it will show through in your behavior toward them. And when you verbalize negative thoughts about a customer, you pass them along to others inside the organization.
Thanks to: Marilyn Suttle and Lori Jo Vest of Suttle Enterprises LLC.

18. Personal Touch is Key

Great customer service requires recognizing your customers by name and thanking them personally. Today there is so much automation (self checkouts at the grocery store, post office, etc. or automated phone services at most businesses from cable companies to airlines) and customers crave human contact. If you engage you customers in person, over the phone or even through social media, they will reward you with loyalty.
Thanks to: Janet Hinz of Critical Thinking in the Real World.

19. Provide a Wow! Experience

Your brand is more than slogan, logo, colors, etc.--it's *the customer's (and prospect's) perception and experience of you.* Thus customer service is far more than grievance resolution; your job is to create strong positive memories of every interaction. Exceed expectations, create "wow moments" and thrill customers so they have to brag.

Many examples are in my 8th book Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet (co-author: Jay Conrad Levinson).
Thanks to: Shel Horowitz of FrugalMarketing.com.

20. Give Customers an Experience

Companies have only 2 kinds of customers, those who want to do business with them and those who do not but who have no other choice. You need to keep the first group and convert the second group. Your competitive advantage can be the total positive experience they have doing business with you.

It works because customers make most shopping decisions emotionally including where to shop. So focus on creating a positive experience for the customer. If you do this, they will return.

Thanks to: Bob Dixon of Robert Dixon Associates.

21. Promises, Promises

I learned this from a business mentor: all customer service should be based on "make a promise, keep a promise." Don't promise more than you can deliver, and then over-deliver. If this is what you do every day, then you will have happy customers... who will send you more!
Thanks to: Jeannette Cezanne of Customline Wordware.

22. Sock it to Them!

Blacksocks delivers high quality socks by "sockscription." If a customer is unhappy with his or her order, then we issue a credit for the socks received and if it's less than four pair, we say: "give them to friend." No need to return the socks to us. This creates good will for the customer and introduces our beautiful socks to a new potential customer.
Thanks to: Lori Rosen of Blacksocks.

23. Watch Those Hands!

Pay attention to someone's hand gestures and you'll strike gold! Are they moving their hands while talking? They want bottom line information and are quick to spend money. Status and prestige motivates them so show them how buying your product makes them look good to others. Not talking with their hands? Slow it down and give lots of details. They will ask many questions and need time to digest facts! They don't care about status and prestige. It's all about safety and security for them!
Thanks to: Angel Tucker.

24. It's All About Relationships

Outstanding customer service is all about relationships. My best advice for building strong relationships with your customers is in Tweet number 123 in my new book SUCCESS TWEETS. "Use every customer interaction to build and strengthen your relationship. Strong relationships are your ticket to dynamite customer service."

Thanks to: Bud Bilanich of The Common Sense Guy.

25. Guaranteed Tip!

Do everything necessary to increase the intensity of their experience. Make them use their 5 senses. The emotional connection is a guarantee.
Thanks to: Norman Lacasse.

26. Customer? No...MOM!

I treat all customers like they are my mother. I respect them. I am grateful for them. I honor the role they play in my business. I may not agree with everything they say or do, but as “my mom” they deserve a level of respect. I am open to their feedback, their questions, and their praise. I know that they made me who I am and that I am nothing without them. I am “open for business” because of them. Without them, I would not exist. I love them and am thankful for them each day.
Thanks to: Barbilee Hemmings of Are You For Real?.

27. Fast Follow Up!

Get back to clients in a timely manner.
Responding to emails and phone calls immediately or very quickly give clients the impression that you are there to serve them and work for them. This is important to me as a client and a service provider.
Thanks to: Dayna Edwards of REACH, LLC.

28. Who Are These People?

Instead of thinking of the people we serve as clients, patients, customers, or worse yet, dollar signs, what happens when we think of them as guests? Suddenly, the entire relationship takes a turn for the better and we all know that business is about relationships. When a guest enters, we greet them warmly and genuinely; when a customer walks in we ask what they looking for. Do you see the difference? It is amazing the changes that happened in my practice when I changed my thought process.
Thanks to: Jeannie M. Bush of AmenityElectrolysis, LLC.

29. It's 2010, People Book Online!

Face it, online bookings are here to stay. It would be ridiculous to return to booking flights, hotel rooms, or cars by calling in and speaking to a real live human being, so what about everything else? Since it's 2010, there are lots of websites that help you offer online bookings, including some that are free! Whether you need to merely book consultations with clients, schedule a site visit, or rent out spaces or objects, your customers will love the option and immediacy of booking online.
Thanks to: Daniel Trang of Veribook.

30. Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Ask the customer what THEY would like.
Thanks to: Akasha Halsey.

31. Make Them Feel Special

Make them feel special with your full attention. When was the last time anyone you did business with didn't text, take a call, glance at a calendar, and really focused on you? Each interaction should be as calm, quiet and focused on your customer every time you speak. This turns what normally is an odd occurrence into something they can count on. They feel special and important and that resonates with everyone. If a customer feels important they are a customer for life.
Thanks to: Elysabeth Fulda of Sphinx Group.

32. 24/ 7/ 365

It's all about 24/7/365 access to you, the business owner. To that end, I tell everyone that our main business line is also my cell phone. Which I try to answer on the first or second ring, unless I'm stopping someone from bleeding out at the moment!

Clients love knowing they can reach me whenever and wherever I am!

Thanks to: Sylvia Wildfire of On Call Medic / CPR Plus.

33. National Keynote Speaker

I have been keynote speaking for over 10 years and I know the importance of showing appreciation and thanks to meeting planners and staff who do all of the background work to make my hour on the stage fantastic. I have sent baskets and flowers but the one thing that gets their attention and keeps the relationship alive is a "YOU ROCK" tee shirt. I had a simple tee created at a local tee shirt shop- sent it on off and the RIO has been fantastic. People like to know that they rock!

Thanks to: Karen McCullough of Karen McCullough & Co. .

34. Please and Thank You

Acknowledge your customer and potential customers. This applies to both face to face customers and on-line customers. I am not a brick and mortar business, but I do participate in trade shows. I greet everyone entering my booth. The same applies to my website; I acknowledge orders on packing slips or email from my sales site so if they have any questions, the customers can just reply. I indicate ship dates and thank them for their order. I have gotten compliments that my notes are greatly appreciated.
Thanks to: Alicia Campbell of The Batty Lady.

35. Be Available

Be available. One of the ways I distinguish myself from other lawyers is that clients can get me on the phone. I am ALWAYS available, and clients know that they can talk to an attorney on their schedule when their needs require it.

The adage that "half of life is showing up" is so true in the legal profession when many lawyers don’t even return calls. I get at least 20% of my clients because they're under the gun and need a lawyer right NOW and I was able to be there for them.
Thanks to: Bob King of Legally Nanny.

36. Oversupply

One way to really make customers feel like kings is by oversupplying. When customers feel like you've gone over-the-top with your product or service, they'll be forever grateful. One easy way to do this is by shipping product to customers faster than they expected. It'll be a pleasant surprise.
Thanks to: Danny Wong of Custom Men's Dress Shirts | BL.

37. Cheese Log for Every Customer

You know how frustrating it is when you buy a bottle of wine that you love, only to completely forget the name of it the next time you want some? The same thing happens in the world of cheese. So for each & every one of our guests, we offer to track their personal favorites using a custom-designed computer database program. It keeps a log of all their purchases so they will never forget their favorite fromage!
Thanks to: Gina Freize of Venissimo Cheese.

38. Don't Lie

Do what you say you'll do, and do it on time. This may sound overly simplistic, but you would not believe how many times customers say I provide the best service because I do what I say I'll do, and I do it on time. (People who have had to call the phone company 25 times over one issue will know what I'm talking about.)
Thanks to: Amanda McRight Relyea of ICMA.

39. Make Sure it Fits

We're an online company and find that many manufacturers size their clothing differently. While we make notes about it on our website, we've started contacting new customers who order sizes that wouldn't fit the same person. We go over how each piece runs before filling their order. It not only cuts down on exchanges and returns, but it also lets them know we care about their satisfaction. Our customers have always been thrilled to get the help with sizing before they get their order.
Thanks to: Adrienne Catone of FaeriesDance.com.

40. Passion is Contagious

Make sure your employees are passionate about what they do, who they are and how they live. That will naturally spill over into excellent customer service!

When you see someone who absolutely loves life, and expresses that love and passion when talking about their business you want some of what they have, don’t you? Of course you do. They’re happy, they’re having fun, making money doing something they love and usually serving humankind in some way. It’s contagious, isn’t it?

Thanks to: Carol Hasbrouck of Intentional Living.

41. Participation

Using technology, committees and social media we allow our customers to participate in our business. With this participation comes a deeper connection to what we do and what we build, strengthening their loyalty. Using social media we invite participation and suggestions, but we are also taking this to the next level, creating a message board community where people can share ideas, collaborate and help build our business the way they need it and want it.
Thanks to: Marie Still of MRIS.

42. Time to Get Social

"Embrace social media as a customer service tool. Use tools like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to monitor customer feedback, answer questions, and generate conversation around your brand, products, or services. Just be sure you keep the conversation open and flowing by creating an environment where customers can feel comfortable voicing opinions and questions. Keep the feedback on your end coming in a timely, thoughtful manner."

Thanks to: Mandy Boyle of Solid Cactus.

43. Keep Your Promises!

To maintain the loyalty of my customers, I follow through on my promises.
Thanks to: Lorneth Peters of Number Seven Management.

44. Hi I'm Dave, You Are?

LEARN and USE your customers names! If you have to find a way to get them to sign in, read it off their credit card, overhear them talking, find out their names and then use it as often as you can. It creates a personal touch that makes them feel special.
Thanks to: Dave Williams of The Idea Vault.

45. Workforce Management Practices

Start your business off on the right foot (or grow it) with workforce management practices:
- Know your customer contact demand
- Make sure you know it for every channel you make available for customers to contact you
- Forecast & schedule appropriately for all the work your customer service reps do—from handling calls, emails and chats to sending orders to fulfillment
- Reforecast demand throughout the day so you can make sure the customer service is staffed accordingly
Thanks to: Layne Holley of ICMI .

46. Know Your Client

At Going to the Sun Marketing, our number one tip is to thoroughly know your customer before beginning any work with them. By this I mean know who they are, what they do, why they do it, what they feel they do especially well, where could they improve and what makes them the most proud about their business. You need to become intimately familiar with them so you can offer the best possible service. Our clients love us for going above and beyond and taking the time to do this!
Thanks to: Travis Clark of Going to the Sun Marketing.

47. Call 'Til You're Asked to Stop

My company likes to call all of our clients once or twice a week, every week, unless we are explicitly asked to stop. We have found that our customers almost always appreciate our efforts to keep in touch. By keeping our ears to the ground and making sure we can anticipate problems, as well as opportunities to better serve our customers (everyone loves a chance at unique customer service), we are building a stronger company. So call until you're asked to stop - you almost never will be.
Thanks to: Anthony Green of My Ivy Leaguer.

48. Go the Extra Mile

The number one tip to make sure customers are happy is to be willing to put in a little extra effort. This can also be boiled down to saying that the easiest way to do something is not always the best way to do something. Electronic support is great but having people manning the phones is much more important. Take time to consider the customer and make sure you are willing to do a little extra work to guarantee they get a product they will rave about to their friends.
Thanks to: Keith Bax of Conquest Graphics.

49. Picture Perfect Loyalty

Take pictures of your customers. You can do this by having a discrete camera attached to a computer somewhere where the customer will be interacting with staff. Add the pictures to your customer database. Spend 15 minutes in the morning reviewing with every staff member all of the pictures and names for all of the customers that are scheduled to come in that day. Your customer will be exceptionally impressed when the janitor they pass by stops to say "Hello Mr. Smith, how is your visit going".
Thanks to: Erick Westcott of Gelousy Gel Nail Systems.

50. Get Emotional About Service

We tend to think more about physical need fulfillment for customers – having product available, on-time delivery, hours of operation, etc. We forget that our customers also have emotional needs such as needs for respect, appreciation, control, trust and recognition. Think about how the actions of you and your employees can be adjusted to also help meet appropriate emotional needs of your customers. This can separate you from competition and create a bond that keeps customers coming back.
Thanks to: Dr. Dennis Rosen of WinFluence® Solutions.

51. What Happens After the Sale?

My favorite tip for customer service is sending a handwritten thank you note after the sale. I believe that extreme customer service happens after the sale because you can put on your best dog & pony show to earn the sale, but afterwords, most customers only receive a bill or a survey.

Send a handwritten thank you note even when you don't earn the sale.

Handwritten cards are usually shared with others, cementing the great customer service experience in your customer's mind.
Thanks to: Angel Tuccy of Experience Pros.

52. Who are You?

My tip is to remember their names, children, jobs and other info. Take along a little notebook and when you speak with them later on write down all that they shared. When they come back you will have a physical description of them, and all their info to talk about THEM!
Thanks to: Steve Sapato of Steve Sapato Humorist & Seminars.

53. Terrific Customer Service Tip

What I have found to work best with customer service and making clients feel like a million dollars is keeping in communication with them at least once a week when we are working on projects with them. Clients love this. One of the leading reasons companies lose clients is lack of communication. The customer feels you do not care about them because they never hear from you. The best customer service strategy is creating a relationship and staying in touch with customers.
Thanks to: Peter Geisheker of The Geisheker Group Marketing Firm.

54. Be Genuine

I strongly believe customers will be loyal when they are greeted and helped by someone who is GENUINE. Listen, be sincere and truly interested in the customers' needs and requests no matter how large or small. I was grateful when a customer purchased 2 suits or 2 pairs of socks provided they left the store happy. People know when they are being treated with sincerity and will return and ask for you by name.
Thanks to: Robert Colannino.

55. Simple Hard Advice

LISTEN!
Thanks to: Toni Spizman of Bulldog Reporter.

56. The Whole Picture

I would say listen and provide a complete solution. You are the expert and the customer is coming to you for a solution. Don't sell them short, their time is valuable as well.
Thanks to: Jonathan Nowling of Rock Hill Lavender.

57. Listen

Listen actively to what your customer is saying. Respond directly to what he/she says not with what you want to say. Failure to listen is the most costly problem in business. If you listen you can satisfy the customer.
Thanks to: Mitch Carnell of SPWC.

58. It's All About Connecting!

Connect with your customer. Even if this is the only time you will see or speak to them. Find some way to build rapport with them. Smile. Use their name. Be interested in them. Thank them for doing business with you.
Thanks to: Randi Busse of Workforce Development Group, Inc..

59. Raving Fans Customer Service

Abacus Planning Group is committed to client service. In 2009, the team read "Raving Fans", a great book about the kind of client service we want our clients to experience. We live by the following client service rule:

Listen, listen and listen again...it is not about us, it is about our client.

View errors and complaints as an opportunity:

To serve
To learn
To improve
To strengthen a relationship with a co-worker
To strengthen a client relationship

Thanks to: Barbara Griffin of Abacus Planning Group, Inc..

60. (Not)Sorry for Talking So Long

As a field salesperson, sales manager, Director of Marketing and now entrepreneur, whenever I am able to return a phone call within 5 minutes (my goal) I always say "Sorry it took me so long to get back to you."

The client (or superior) always responds "That did not take long at all! I wish everyone did-like you!"

That is the response I want as they have just talked themselves into the fact that I provide superior customer service, I am organized, I care and they are very important!
Thanks to: Andrew Greenberg of Speaking of Andy Greenberg.

61. Attract More Sales!

Brand new to corporate sales, management tried to force me out refusing to speak to me believing a woman couldn't sell. On the occasion I was granted an appointment, I entered with a notepad and asked my prospect why I was invited in. I proceeded to ask how they got their job to personally become acquainted. They called me "a breath of fresh air" and then asked permission to buy from me. By month 4, I remained the top Rep selling to Fortune 100 and 500 companies. Listening trumps al!
Thanks to: Elinor Stutz of Smooth Sale, LLC.

62. "No Problem" is a Problem

Your best response to "Thank you" is "You're welcome" or "My pleasure", not "No problem" -- why bring up problems when you've just finished solving them?
Thanks to: Frances Cole Jones.

63. Tips from Elephants

Rather than looking to marketing gurus for help in creating superior customer services experiences, I suggest utilizing a nature-inspired approach. Recent scientific research provides the first hard evidence that elephants have deep emotional lives. Elephants mourn the death of family members and those outside their herd, so empathy is the glue that bonds elephants with one another. Why not take a lesson from elephants and integrate “empathy” into your customer service standards?
Thanks to: Tom Porter of Business Lessons From Nature.

64. Pick Up the Phone

BikeHike Adventures stands out from the crowd by calling each potential client after an inquiry rather than forwarding a standard e-mail with a link to a FAQ or webpage that would answer the question. By calling, we can answer any other questions they may have right away.
Thanks to: Anny Chih of BikeHike Adventures.

65. Be There

Be there in a way that meets the customer's needs, having the customer know you are available, but making sure that you are not so aggressive with your service that you interfere with the customer experience.
Thanks to: Liz Cosline of SongofOneUnexpectedLife S.O.U.L..

66. Is This a Secret???

Every company in the world knows customers are important, yet, as customers, how important do we feel when dealing with these companies? Often isn't it more like that infamous phone message, "Because we value your business, please continue to hold." With all the talk about customer service, with all the blather about customer centric companies, making people feel important is still the easiest and the cheapest way to differentiate your business from the competition. Make people feel important!
Thanks to: Barry Maher of Barry Maher & Associates.

67. Key to Customer Satisfaction

Spend TIME with them. People love to talk and tell their stories. I make it a point to spend as much time as possible talking AND listening to each of my customers. I share tips and info on industry topics but sometimes it's just small talk or finding out their interests. Of course this includes choosing staff with your same objective and/or training them in your strategy. Incidentally, a key is to do it all because you love and want to help people - not so much as a "strategy".

Thanks to: Teri Blaschke of Hidden Valley RV Park.

68. A Can't Miss Gift for Clients

My ONE best tip for customer loyalty: When clients and customers reach a certain dollar amount of delivered service or purchased products, or refer someone who becomes new client, I gift them with a pre-paid gift catalog so they can choose the gift they want from a wide selection of 30-40 items. Folks who refer qualified prospects to me who become new clients are also gifted. As the "gift albums" range in price and offering, I can choose the one that fits my budget and their occasion.
Thanks to: Eileen Batson of Batson Group Marketing and PR.

69. What Do Your Customers Want?

APPRECIATED: Thank the customer, follow up, and go beyond service expectations. When you provide "special" offers or remember special details about the customer they will appreciate you as well, and want to return.
IMPORTANT: We all like to feel important, so use the customer's name, give special treatment when possible, ask for their opinions.
Thanks to: Ellen+ Hohmann of Innovative Leadership.

70. 3 Levels of Customer Service

Customer service comes in 3 levels: Offensive, Uncaring, or Caring.

Offensive is a blatant rudeness that sends customers into an escalading defensive position. Uncaring is indifferent and recognized as the #1 issue that sends customers to the competition. Caring is "I don't know, but let me find out for you". It is when your return is handled politely and gracefully. The customer comes back again and again.

At which level do YOU service your customers?
Thanks to: Diane M. Hoffmann of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications.

71. Don't Fail to Do This

Listen! The question, comment or complaint that is being presented to you may be the thousandth time you have heard it / answered it. But for the customer, it is the first time they are making the query and may be the only opportunity you have to make them a loyal customer. Be focused on that ONE person. Hear ALL the parts of their comment and respond accordingly. If you are required to work off a script - do what you can to make it personal and heartfelt - and not sound rote.
Thanks to: Heidi McCarthy of Toughest Customer.

72. Be Your Customer and Shine!

If, from our fun-loving & adventurous customers, we hear about a mis-shipped item or a quality issue, we listen, take responsibility, tell the truth & thank them for sharing. Most just want to be heard, are pleasantly surprised we care & take action. All the companies doing it wrong makes us shine! Be good to your customer and treat them as a consultant to your company.
Thanks to: Suuz Martines of ScubaDoRag.

73. Nothing I Couldn't Do Myself

My client pays me to supervise his personal exercise because I treated him with respect. As a retired company director he demanded punctuality and a dedicated program. Always on time and always thinking about his condition on the day, he commented that "We don't do anything I couldn't do myself. But I wouldn't".

By focusing on his condition and basing many exercises on his love of golf I have been employed for three years and grossed £10.000. Make sure your client can't do it without you.
Thanks to: Ernie Boxall of Balance Health and Fitness.

74. Exceptional Customer Service

Create a great team: Convey the expectation of exceptional customer service & get them excited to build the business together - accept nothing less. Share your vision & goals & let them know it can't be done without them, but also that if they won't do what's expected, you'll find others who will! To build Customer Retention: Be a fun place to come to, smiles everywhere, glad to see them, pleasant conversations with & around them, listen to concerns, thank them & ask them to come back EVERY TIME!
Thanks to: Wendy Kay of WellWealth.

75. Taking a Different Approach...

A great opportunity to provide outstanding customer service is when problems occur. As I see it, this is one area that can make or break companies, especially large ones. If a company handles the inevitable problem/issue as an "opportunity", and trains sales and service staff to view them as such, then great service can happen. Unfortunately, lots of companies fall short in this area. Those that don't fall short get a lot of good word-of-mouth mileage from handling problems as opportunities.
Thanks to: Erik Anderson of Infinity Print Group, Inc..

76. Don't Be a Stranger!

In a world where everything seems to be getting bigger and more impersonal, people crave contact that makes them feel valued. Try and build positive relationships from the get-go. Get to know your customers by asking them what is going on in their world. Then check in with them every once in a while. Try and remember to ask them something that demonstrates you remember what they told you about their world. It can make all the difference in the world because it shows you genuinely care.
Thanks to: Debra Brown of MobilizeUs.

77. Fine Tune Your Follow Up

Many people think “the fortune is in the follow up" is following up on a sales lead. The true fortune lies within the follow up after the initial sale is made. A series of creative follow up touches seals not only the deal at hand but future deals as well. Thank you notes, gifts, a visit/call to check in, a customer appreciation event (hint: not a disguised sales pitch) are ideas. Let the client know they are valued & thought of long after the initial check has been deposited in your account.
Thanks to: Teresa Cleveland of Empowered Awareness.

78. Answer the Unasked Question

Let your customers know what they should know before they know they need to know it. You are the expert in your field. You know all the ins and outs and what is important. Your experience is what sets you apart from others who offer services similar to yours. If you have some hints to help them accomplish their goal easier, share them. The good will created by solving the unspoken problem is invaluable!
Thanks to: CJ Modisette of Fox Inspection Group.

79. Surpass Their Expectations

As soon as you have your carpet cleaned, somebody tracks something in
or the dog throws up. We come back and clean it for FREE... why? Because it completely surpasses the customers' expectations! Word of mouth advertising is as good as gold. How do you get customers to talk about your service? Customers will talk about your business if you do a lousy job or if you exceed their expectations. Re-cleaning a spot for free... even weeks after the service always makes an impression!
Thanks to: Karen Herring of STEAMEX.

80. NAMES Lead to FAME and Fortune

One way for your business to grow is to enhance your relationship with your current client base. Whenever possible, use their NAME when addressing them. Instead of "How can I help you?" say "Mary, so nice to see you again. How can I help you today?" Also make reference to their family members. Take a personal interest in them and your business will stand out from all the others that may be pitching the same product/service to your client.
Thanks to: John DiPietro of Advanced Business Concepts/DiPietro.

81. Speed Kills

It's simple - when people write you, answer them. Fast. Customers are never as impressed as when you jump for their business. It's sad, but we've come to expect misery when we contact companies. And while you wait, you just know that someone is getting an answer before you, another customer is more important and maybe, just maybe, they're playing ping pong before getting to your email. Nothing is as good as getting an actual (human) response in 15 minutes. Now THAT'S a company that values me.
Thanks to: Ross Kimbarovsky of crowdSPRING.

82. What's that Ringing Sound?

This seems ridiculously remedial in a world of savvy marketing techniques, but if I can offer one tip on bringing customers back it would be this: answer the phone. Or at least return calls and emails promptly (within 24 hours, not 24 days). Stop surfing your messages looking for the hottest prospect or the most urgent customer question. Use the manners your mother taught you and RESPOND to everyone. Consider it your thank-you note for their gift of inquiry. Simple. And it works.
Thanks to: Abby Sims of Mid-America Arts Alliance.

83. Cash in on Your Promotions

Educate your staff about current promotions.

I can't tell you how many times I go to use a coupon or shop a special event a business is supposed to be having, only to find out the staff has no idea about it. It's frustrating for customers and leaves a negative feeling about the business.

Business owners need to educate their staff about their current promotions. Otherwise they're just wasting their advertising dollars.
Thanks to: Christina Gray, Marketing Consultant.

84. A Customer is Not a Customer

A customer is not a customer until the SECOND time they buy from you. The first time they are merely a TRIAL USER.

The importance of this tip is that it helps ensure you think through the post-purchase and user experience aspects of your sale. Unless the customer is happy and, at a minimum, satisfied they will not return. Customer service MUST CONTINUE after the sale, otherwise it is not outstanding!
Thanks to: Steven Howard of Howard Marketing Services.

85. Remember Who is Important.

My one best tip for creating the ultimate customer service experience is to build an intimate relationship with the client by actively listening and remembering what they have told you and incorporate it into your business relationship.
Thanks to: Evan Shorten, CFP® of Paragon Financial Partners.

86. The Forgotten Customer

When seeking to provide outstanding customer service, consider your employees as your first line of customers. I consider the customer transaction to be an exchange of value, their money for my offering. The same could be said of your employees. They exchange their time for your money, an exchange of value.

If you value your employees as you would your ultimate customer, your customers will feel that transfer of value. Feeling valued is what outstanding customer service is all about.
Thanks to: Anthony Manganiello of Centricity, Inc..

87. Smile and Use Their Name

The simplest tip to providing outstanding customer service is to smile and use their name – people love to hear their name. They can be addressed as Mr. Smith or Joe Smith, and you can detect a smile over the phone just as much as you can in person. It makes people quickly feel important and valued, and puts a personalized touch on customer service.

Thanks to: Dianne Durkin,Founder, of Loyalty Factor, LLC.

88. Offer Golden Customer Service

The secret to providing excellent customer service is as simple as following the Golden Rule: Treat your customers with the respect you deserve and expect from others. It's a proven fact that satisfied customers tend to recommend to friends businesses that treat them respectfully.

Train your employees (and yourself) to treat customers with proper business etiquette. When hiring, look for applicants who dress properly, communicate well, make eye contact and smile. They're golden.


Thanks to: Kathie Martin, APR of The Etiquette School of Birmingham.

89. Tomorrow is Today

Not only fulfill the clients' (customers') PRESENT needs beyond expectation but also consistently anticipate and be ready to fulfill the clients' FUTURE needs, and with options/choices. Always think and prepare one step or steps ahead. This strategy has proven to cement customer loyalty and makes our services invaluable to the client.
Thanks to: Sheryl Kurland of Patient Advocates Of Orlando.

90. Be proactive

RESOLVE COMPLAINTS TO EVERYONE'S SATISFACTION. Be proactive in solving customer complaints. Put it in writing and don't consider it solved until the customer has signed off on it.
Thanks to: Matt Colligan of Champion Windows - Colorado Springs.

91. How to Create a WOW Experience

Your customers can't NOT have an experience, it will be WOW, Bland or UGH! Here are 3 quick tips to create a WOW experience that delivers a perception of great service:
1. Create the right physical environment to engage all senses: sight, smell, sound, taste, touch
2. Identify the desired emotional outcome: love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness, fear (yes, even fear for a scary movie!)
3. Empower employees to use ingenuity to create the emotional outcome, even if the customer is in a bad mood
Thanks to: Anne C. Graham of The Legendary Value Institute.

92. Your Coach and a Movie

For my Full Contact Coaching clients I gift them each month with a specific book that I believe will help them personally or with their business. However, I like to "shake it up" and make things different. One month I selected the DVD movie, Mr. Holland's Opus and mailed it to them along with a bag of microwavable popcorn and a note reminding them that in spite of what happens in their life and world, they do indeed make a difference...just as did Mr. Holland as a music teacher.
Thanks to: Dr. Ron Arndt of THE DENTAL COACH.

93. Service IS Personal!

There are 2 kinds of consultants in this world - the ones who see sales and dollar signs and the ones who view their work as a service that meets the needs of others. Focus on their needs, not yours, and take the time to find out who your clients are as human beings. It sounds so simple, yet many do not take the time to do it! We can't create powerful experiences if we do not know our customers!
Thanks to: Deborah Darlington of InspirationInProgress, LLC.

94. The Anniversary Advantage

I ask my clients when they were married. They often know I'm asking to put it into my contact manager, but they always respond. When I call to wish them a Happy Anniversary, I ask what they're doing to celebrate. Usually, they have reservations for dinner at a favorite restaurant. My next call is to the restaurant to order a bottle of champagne. My gift appears shortly after they arrive. "We didn't order this" they'll say. "But it's been taken care of by Sandy" will be the response.
Thanks to: Sandy Schussel of Brass Ring Coaching.

95. How to Win and Keep Customers

Here is the number one secret I have used to build auto repair business's that works like magic. Get outside of yourself and put yourself into the shoes of your customer or prospect. Every person has an inherent need to feel cared about. Make them feel that you care about their needs and you will win them for life, and they will tell their family and friends. You must be sincere, and it takes practice, but it will build your business every time.
Thanks to: Les Schmidt of Les Schmidt Coaching/Consulting.

96. Happy Customers Love CATERing

There are 5 things you can do immediately and consistently to earn the love, respect, and loyalty of your customers.

The key is in how well you C.A.T.E.R.:

C = Communicate often - keep them updated
A = Ask them how you're doing
T = Thank them
E = Entertain their comments and questions
R = Resolve their challenges quickly

A satisfied customer feels like you care. By doing a little catering, they will know you do.
Thanks to: Karen Graves of Vision Launch.

97. Angry Customers Teach More

You learn more from angry customers. I tell my clients "Send me to your screamers!" My approach is: Don't try to win them back, calm them down, or to appease them with discounts. Instead really listen, observe and understand deeply the customer pain points. Use this insight to restructure your development priorities. Current thinking promotes learning to "manage" angry customers. This approach lacks authenticity. I say don't manage them at all. Instead, fix something that matters to customers.
Thanks to: Darren Kall.

98. Under Promise - Over Deliver

This simple principle "blows the socks off" customers and competitors! It's totally honest and simply requires unwavering dedication to go beyond ordinary words into extraordinary actions. When a publishing client asked for a couple front cover mock-ups in a week, we delivered half a dozen full covers complete with author photo and book review copy -- just like a finished book -- in four days! The client was blown away and our relationship increased as we exceeded expectations. Works every time.
Thanks to: Dr. Tom Taylor of Victory For Leaders.

99. Never Say This!

The emphasis for our open enrollment meetings this past year was, Superheroes. A series of customer service tips were shared that would provide "Superhero" service to our internal and external customers. The most important and foundational building block to all quality customer service starts with an attitude which is best expressed in this statement - "Never say, that's not my job." If you see a need in another person's life, you alone are uniquely qualified to meet that need. Be the Hero.
Thanks to: Tim Lacy of The MASH Program.

100. Deliver Drama Free Makeup!

I've done makeup in multimillion dollar apartments and on set for TV shows like Project Runway, The Today Show and The Tony Awards but also while riding in Escalades or leaning across desks while clients blog. I bring a lot of supplies and products with me, but I've learned to be extremely organized so that I can be graceful under any circumstances. Ultimate customer service is about preparedness, listening, and adaptability, which allows me to be calm, attentive, and resourceful in any situation.
Thanks to: Andrew Sotomayor of Makeup Artist Andrew Sotomayor.

101. Trust Your Customer

If our customers need help with creating videos, we send them a Flip video camera in the mail. We trust our customers to use the equipment carefully and return it safely when they are done. This level of trust starts off the relationship on the right foot. They know we trust them - so they can trust us back.

Small companies are not used to vendors giving them anything, just endless call center loops and not being trusted. We break that mold and get very loyal customers in return.
Thanks to: Bettina Hein of Pixability, Inc..

102. Who's Stealing Your Customers?

In three words: a better experience. Competitors may duplicate your product or match your price; but it’s very difficult to mimic a unique, personalized and memorable customer experience. World-class providers are crystal clear they are first in the “experience business”. Customers remember and refer others to thoughtful experiences not mere transactions. When you invest in a compelling experience, your customers will invest in you.
Thanks to: Chris Bryant of Chris Bryant Presents, Inc..

103. WOW YOUR CUSTOMERS!

Add a "notes" section to either your computer database or Rolodex listing specific information about your customer (i.e. name of children, specific interests of the customer, customer shopping preferences, birthdays, etc.) This provides you general conversation ideas when the customer returns. The goal is for the customer to say "WOW" when they leave your business and to also separate yourself from your competitors. Both will assure their return and referrals to their friends.
Thanks to: Dawn Mushill of Customer Service and Beyond.

104. The Power of Yes!

You need to go above and beyond to remain competitive in today's economy. I have educated my team to always say YES whenever possible. I realize some requests may appear grueling; however, if you do your best to accommodate your customer's difficult request, they'll remember the effort you put forth. Those efforts lead to repeat business, and those are the relationships that are vital for growing your business. If you don't believe me, say no and see if those customers come back for more.
Thanks to: Chobee Hoy of Chobee Hoy Real Estate.

105. WOW your Customers!

You need to create a policy that will WOW your customers. 25 years ago we created an unconditional money back guarantee on all of our products because we wanted to WOW our customers & prove that our products work. The guarantee worked then & it continues to work today. Customers find gratification in dealing with a company that not only cares about their customers and products, but a company that continues to grow based on the original core values that keeps them grounded.
Thanks to: David M. Stone of Photographic Solutions, Inc. .

106. Collaborate with Your Customer

Treat your customer as a partner and collaborate. Make your customer feel at ease and able to ask questions and express opinions. When I create a piece of jewelry for a client, I make sure I know exactly what she envisions and encourage her input. I don’t just assume my ideas are the best ones because I’m the designer and she’s the customer. The more comfortable your customer is with your process, the more likely he or she is to come back with more business or recommend you to others.
Thanks to: Katharine Sise of Katharine Sise Design.

107. The Original Social Networking

Most people concentrate on the customer's experience when considering service. Few consider the employee.

Without a self motivated employee with confidence in the business and bullet proof self esteem, efforts to pound a round peg into a square hole usually go unrewarded. A confident staff that is well trained, organized, knowledgeable, and happy in their job organically produces great customer relations.
Thanks to: Aetius Romulous of ScreamBucket.

108. Yes First, How Later

When working with a client, I say "yes" to their requests, whenever possible. I then find a way to make it happen. By setting aside policy, inconveniencing myself or my staff and going beyond their expectations, I create a great customer service experience that they remember.
Thanks to: Nancy Weil of The Laugh Academy.

109. Set Your Expectations Upfront

Achieving excellent customer service can be easy and a common mistake that many businesses make is not understanding the customer expectations going into the relationship. Often we assume we know what the customer wants, or that the customer knows what we provide. Few business leaders or sales people ask the question, "What results do you hope to see after working with us?" This is golden. The customer will tell you exactly what their expectations are.
Thanks to: Dan Paulson of InVision Business Development.

110. Be Yourself!

Smile and be yourself. You know your craft, you know where your talents lie, and you have a lot to offer. Don't just give customers a product or service, reach out for the relationship. It makes work more enjoyable and enhances the customer's experience.
Thanks to: Carol Peden of Kitchens of Stillwater.

111. Appreciation Motivation

Give your employees an assignment- 2 weeks to write an appreciation letter to a business that is outside of your vendors. Then have a meeting where everyone shares their letters. Facilitate a discussion about what they liked: the experience, a person, the ambiance, etc. Lead by example and do the same. It motivates your employees to do better, so that your customers will want to write letters to you about them!

Copyright 2010 by Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE and Shepard Presentations, LLC
Thanks to: Shep Hyken of Shepard Presentations, LLC.

112. Pick Up the Phone!

In this day of e-mail and e-forms and e-voices, it's no wonder customers become discouraged and angry when they can't get satisfaction. The solution? Pick up the phone! A disgruntled customer can be quickly "un-gruntled" with a personal phone call, and a happy customer's smile only widens when a kind voice thanks her for her patronage.
Thanks to: Ted Scofield of Sexy Slang.

113. Customer for Life with Fido

Building relationships are the keys to great customer service. This relationship acknowledges people's need to feel that they are unique and special, not just a number. What better way than remembering the name of their pet. Yes, Fido the dog or Fluffy the cat. Pets can be very important members of families especially to single or older people. Inquire if the customer has a pet, what type and the name. Keep this info in your customer file. Next time they come in ask "How is Fido?" See them SMILE!
Thanks to: Caroline Wadlin MD.

114. Can Do! for Customer Service

The ABSOLUTE best tip is the simplest of all (but NOT easy for most people) and that is to have a "CAN DO!" attitude. Always! Most importantly when the customer is irate or you are not feeling at your best. You can train tips and best practices all day long (and please do) but unless the attitude fueling it comes from the heart, comes from "Can Do!", tips lay fallow.

Thanks to: Jim Hornickel of Bold New Directions.

115. WOW and Save Your Customers

It's never too late to WOW & save a customer. When problems arise (and they always do) and it's "too late" to save the customer as they have already chosen to leave you, offer them a "welcome back" offer they can't refuse. Bend over backwards to roll out the red carpet for their return. It works!
Thanks to: Jeff Mask of Infusionsoft.

116. Platinum Service

Giving the customer undivided attention while listening for their needs usually makes the customer feel special and appreciated.
Thanks to: Brandy Jones of Ardyss International.

117. No Matter What, Be Nice

Being nice to customers is easy when they are great but much harder when they are on a mission to ruin you. This 'customer from hell' will tell their ‘horror’ tale to anyone who listens & no one will hear your side of it. So what do you do? Be extra nice to them. Listen for their real concerns & address them. Follow up with helpful advice (e.g. if you sell them a lawnmower, provide five easy maintenance tips after their purchase). Remember, this customer could be your greatest advocate ever.
Thanks to: Muchiri Nyaggah of Semacraft.

118. Offer CEO's Email and Phone

Put the CEO's email and phone on every communication, website and print piece. Risky? Not really. You get a lot less contacts than you think, but you learn a lot really quickly. You get to hear Customer problems fast and can delegate the action needed. You also get to hear what goes right. With over 400,000 Customers, Headsets.com is no small operation but the three or four direct communications I get every day make it very valuable for quick feedback. Let your Customer know you care, don't hide.
Thanks to: Mike Faith of Headsets.com.

119. Small Gestures, Big Rewards

It has become cliché (and mathematically challenging) to say we deliver 110%, but how do you quantify that claim? Easy. Go above and beyond what your clients expect and do it at no charge. It’s amazing what a small gesture means. Throw in an extra piece of sushi to a regular customer, do a small job for a good client and send a No Charge invoice. Let them know you think about them and value their business, then show it with your actions. You’ll reap the rewards for years to come.
Thanks to: Scott Harris of Mustang Marketing.

I hope that this list inspires you to take your customer service to the next level. Take the list, tape it to your wall and make sure every employee in your organization reads and lives by it! Many thanks to everyone who contributed this valuable feedback!

Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is currently an on-air contributor for the national cable television station CNBC, the pre-eminent name in business news, and the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country. Carol multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011 &2012) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth
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