Businesses don’t want you! Well, most businesses don’t. Sure, they want your money, they will take your orders and they would love your referrals, but they don’t want YOU. Wanting to take care of you and your needs as a customer rather than just your order involves time, follow up, research and money. What takes a business from good to great is an investment in you, their customer. It is my opinion that it is this extra stretch of time and effort that often takes the true success stores in business and makes them something worth talking about. So how do you become one of the exceptions in business and push yourself beyond your competitors? In concept it is simple–focus on meeting and exceeding your customer’s needs. In practice it takes work; let’s take a closer look at how you can create something worth talking about in your business by focusing on the concepts of Y.O.U. Your customer is your life-blood. Let’s face it, without customers you would be done, right? Do your customers know that? They should! Think of ways to tell them how important they are, everyone likes to feel important, appreciated and needed. Here are some examples of ways that you can make sure your customers know they are appreciated: – On the phone–after they call for information or to place an order or to complain about a problem, always end the call with your appreciation for their business and support. – With their order—include a note of thanks and an offer to contact you if there is anything more you can do to help. – On your website or in your store—post a visual sign thanking them for their business. – With follow-up–provide a follow up call or send a postcard or email shortly after they give you their business thanking them. Others decide how good you are. Sure you love your company and are convinced that you offer the best service or products. However, people don’t care nearly as much about what you think of your business as what their friends have to say about it. Focus on each and every customer, viewing them as a friend and working to gain their satisfaction and support. Ask them for feedback and implement their suggestions. If you get lazy in this area it will show. Letting just a few unhappy customers leave your store can also quickly unravel all that you have worked to build up in the way of a good reputation. This is where the hard, consistent work of making every customer a satisfied one will come to reward you. Until you sacrifice, you will not succeed. I believe that true customer service is really about sacrifice. You must be willing to sacrifice in a few key areas: Time-it takes time to respond to each email, phone call or complaint personally, promptly and with sincerity—do it! Your customers will notice the difference and appreciate your efforts. Go out of your way to exceed their expectations. If you don’t have the product they need, help them find it form someone else. If they don’t understand something, offer to walk them through it. If they need something quickly, offer more than one option to get it to them on time. This kind of sacrifice will leave an indelible mark in their minds and over time can create a fierce loyalty to your company. Money-you must be wiling to sacrifice some of your immediate profits to make customers happy. Offer a refund if they are not satisfied, a discount if you make a mistake and give gift certificates toward future orders to keep them coming back for more. The profits you will “lose” by doing this is simply an investment in the long term health and growth of your business. If you are trying to make each dollar count, wait to upgrade your printer or fax machine. Customer service is NOT the area to pinch pennies. The beauty of offering great customer service is that you have a built in guide to help you—yourself! I encourage you to take some time to view your business from an outsider’s perspective. View yourself as the customer and meticulously scrutinize each area of your experience as a customer with your business. Look for ways to improve what you already have in place and implement things that you are currently overlooking. I am convinced that if you truly focus on the concepts of Y.O.U., everything will benefit and you will have a business that YOU would want to support!