Marketing is letting consumers know why they should choose your business over your competitors. That includes more than just a single ad or social media campaign, there’s also customer service, customer experience, and follow-up care. All these things help a person make a decision where to buy from.

Good marketing communicates a message for customers to choose your business. Good customer service gives them a reason to keep coming back. Even if your goal was to make only one sale to each person, good customer services encourages people to tell others about their experiences.

Creating Good Customer Service

Good customer service can create loyalty and inspire others to recommend your business, so what are the keys to good customer service? Customer service is the personal communication your customers receive, through email, phone, or in person. To make that experience positive, your customer should feel special or unique. If they’re ignored or have a negative encounter, they’ll take their business somewhere else.

Train Your Employees

It’s more expensive to bring in new customers than it is to keep your current customers happy. Word-of-mouth recommendation is the most trusted form of marketing, and it doesn’t cost you a dime. Taking care of your customers starts with taking care of your employees. Anyone working for your business is a direct representative of you, and should have the knowledge and ability to take care of customers in the best way possible. The CEO rarely interacts with everyday customers, so it’s important to take care of the employees who provide customer service on a daily basis.

Keep Your Promises

A business relationship, like any relationship, is built on trust. Marketing and other factors can get people into your business but how they’re treated will determine if they choose to do business or leave. Customers will judge your business based on your actions, not your words. Reliability can make or break your business. Remember, it’s always better to underpromise and overdeliver.

Admit Your Mistakes

If you do make a promise that you can’t keep, take responsibility for your mistake and fix it. Instant global communication makes it nearly impossible to cover things up. If you make a mistake, own up to it right away or face the consequences when you’re forced to admit the mistake later. This can also apply to complaints. For every customer that brings up a complaint, there could be ten more with the same problem. Be willing to look into the complaint, it’ll give you a chance to find issues and create a better product/service. Turn a complaint into an opportunity for growth.

Go the Extra Mile

Be kind, attentive, and put the customer first (making sure they know they’re being put first). Perception is more powerful than reality. If you’re busy doing something that’ll be great for the customer in the long term, but they don’t know about it, they may not stick around. A small gesture done to help a customer can end up with massive positive results.

Think Long Term

A quick sale might feel good right now, but if a customer feels like they were tricked into the sale, they’ll take their business somewhere else. If you’ve ever been taken in by a good salesman’s high-pressure sales tactics, you know it’s possible to pressure someone into buying something once. After the customer is away from the sales interaction, it’s easier for them to see the tactics used against them and they feel like the business took advantage of them (think used car salesmen). In today’s world, that person can reach out to their vast network and warn them against businesses with shady tactics. Even if it’s only one salesperson, the reputation of the entire business is tarnished, and it’ll take a lot of work to gain any trust again.

Remember the small things that mean a lot to the customer. Treat them with respect and put their needs before profit-at-any-cost, and those customers will bring in more business and greater opportunities.

If you’re looking for a community of small and local businesses working together to be more productive, improve marketing, and help each other, check out The Small Business Circle. There are no referral requirements or obligations.

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