Excellent customer service can create loyal customers for life who are willing to refer your business to friends, family, and colleagues.

Providing customer service starts with a genuine desire to delight your customers, but you also have to think beyond selling your product or service. You need to consider the cumulative experience your customers have when they either visit your office, store, website, what they think and feel, and what you can do to make it better.

Here are nine ways you can start to create a pattern of excellent customer service in your business.

1.  Know Your Product/ Service
In order to provide good customer service, you need to know what you’re selling, inside and out. Make sure you know how your product or service works. Be aware the most common questions customers ask about your products or service, and know how to articulate the answers.

2.  Be Friendly
As they say, customer service starts with a smile. When you are in a face-to-face situation, a warm greeting should be the first thing your customers see and hear when they ask for help. And even when handling customer service requests via telephone, a smile can come through in your voice, so make sure you’re ready to be friendly. Always smile when servicing your customers!

3.  Say Thank You
Gratitude is memorable, and it can remind your customers why they utilize your company. Regardless of the type of business you have, saying thank you after every transaction is one of the easiest ways to start a habit of good customer service.

4.  Train Your Staff
It’s important to make sure all of your employees, not just your senior or customer facing employees, understand the way they should talk to, interact with, and problem solve for customers. Provide employee training that gives your staff the tools they need to carry good customer service through the entire customer experience.

5.  Show Respect
Customer service can often involve emotions, so it’s important to make sure you and others you have handling your customers (customer service tasks) are always courteous and respectful. Never let your own emotions overtake your desire to see your customer happy.

6.  Listen
Listening is the simplest secret of customer service. Listening means hearing what your customers are saying out loud, as well as what they are communicating non-verbally. Watch for signs that they are displeased, as well as what say to you directly.

7.  Be Responsive
There may be nothing worse than non-responsiveness to a customer who is trying to get help, resolve an issue, or find out more about what you’re offering (selling). It’s important to respond quickly to all inquiries, even if it is only to say you are looking into the issue and will be back in touch. Some response is always better than none so the customer doesn’t feel ignored.

8.  Ask for Feedback
You may be surprised what you learn about your customers and their needs when you ask them what they think of your business, products, and services. You can use surveys, feedback forms and questionnaires, but you can also make it a common practice to ask customers first-hand for feedback when they are completing their orders. In fact, certain surveys have shown that asking for direct feedback at the time of transaction will get you the most honest and direct feedback you could ask for.

9.  Use Feedback You Receive
You need to do something with the feedback you receive from customers in order to make it useful in your customer service / satisfaction process. Take time to regularly review feedback, identify areas for improvement, and make specific changes in your business.

Good customer service mostly comes down to consistently checking in with your customers and making sure they are happy with not only the products and services you’re providing / selling, but also the process of ordering, working with you, purchasing, etc. If you do that successfully, you are on your way to becoming known for providing excellent customer service!

By Stephen Ward