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“If you want to be outstanding, stop meeting expectations, start exceeding them.”

There is only one boss, and whether a person serves food for a living or heads up the biggest corporation in the world, the boss remains the same – the customer! In fact, the customer can fire anyone in the company from the CEO and down, and they can do it simply by spending money elsewhere.

If you ask any CEO, a manager or even a staff person they will all claim how important the customer is to their operations & success. “It is our mission, it is our number one priority, it is our goal, it is why we are in business, etc…,” often prove to be mere epitaphs. Unfortunately, these same “customer friendly” executives are often condescending by failing to implement their said goals. Goals are just words until they are supported by actions.

Limited definitions of services, based on an exchange of money for goods and services, misses the overall point of customer service. We need to expand the meaning of “service.” It should provide customers with more than a product and induce satisfaction. A happy customer will continue to be an active and loyal consumer.

Customers want someone to take care of them, understand their needs and address them and finally, someone to hold their hand and walk them through a process. Customer service starts with the ability to listen to the consumers through effective analysis based on what is being demanded. It is key to remember, buyers will spend up to 10% more for the same product with better service; for satisfied experiences customers alert 10-12 people, whereas unsatisfactory experiences result in 20 or more people. There is an 82% chance customers will repurchase from a company where they were pleased and a 91% chance that poor service will dissuade a customer from returning to a company.

It is a challenge when dealing with an unsatisfied customer, but it is crucial to be patient, attentive and friendly.

For instance, doctors already know your current health just by looking at your charts; however, they encourage you to share your questions and concerns before relaying your results. Doctors listen patiently because your health is the first priority and if you’re not able to express your concerns, you will not only be frustrated but also lose hope of getting better. In parallel, when a customer provides negative feedback, they are blaming you for their dissatisfaction and also feels little can be done to resolve the issue. Listen to customers patiently and do not react to aggression; instead, focus on making it right. Arguing and losing control can only make matters worse; be patient until the customer is finished talking, keep the customer engaged throughout the entire resolution process and maintain empathy.

The best customer service is when you let that mild hope turn into a satisfying experience for the customer.

Phrases like “We are only permitted to …” or “It’s not the company’s policy” will endanger customer satisfaction. Every consumer should be able to perceive genuine eagerness and willingness to do whatever is required to service their needs when speaking with company representatives. You have to capitalize your own unique niche and carry out actions with enthusiasm. These “good-will initiatives” are beyond the call of duty and establish a solid customer satisfaction. Positive experiences make for memorable experiences.

Key takeaways: good customer service results in both satisfaction and loyal customers and growth in business. Poor customer service, except for monopolistic strongholds, results in dissatisfaction, lack of loyalty and dwindling profits.

Service is not something you do, it’s something you are. Be approachable and stay involved. Enable yourself to create, connect and succeed. Reframe your customers into guests and processes into experiences.

…after all, we owe it to our customers!