We are all faced with challenges during these changing economic times. How we overcome them and what leadership we provide will make the difference between success and failure.

The secret weapon for being successful during this changing time is customer service. Outstanding customer service will make you stand out from the competition and make your organization successful. Whether your organization is for profit or non-profit, a private or government agency; or a big corporation vs. a small business, the following five customer service secrets will help you succeed in any situation:

1. Grow Your Business with Customer Service Basics
Joy and I were looking to purchase a new cell phone and walked into a retail store. When we walked into the store, the young lady did not look up and acknowledge our presence. When she finally looked up, she asked without a smile and without emotion, “Can I help you?” To make a long story short, every question we asked was appeared to be a bother to the clerk and we quickly left without purchasing anything. We went to another store less than a mile away, and as soon as we walked in the store the clerk had a smile on his face and was attentive to our needs and questions. Within a matter of minutes, we had purchased two cell phones and were happy with our purchase.

Realize that the customer has many options to spend their money and you may have only one opportunity to impress that customer. Treat the customer as the key to making your organization successful and value their time.

Get back to the basics of customer service whether you are in front of the customer or talking to the customer by phone. Greet the customer with a smile, talk with the customer with enthusiasm, and take a sincere interest. Really listen to the customer’s wants and needs so that you can work towards finding a solution. Make eye contact when speaking with the customer. If you ask the customer a question, wait to hear the answer before doing anything else. These basics show the customer you really want to provide a solution for them.

2. Grow Your Business By Going the Extra Mile
I have a membership and exercise at a local gym where I pay extra for their team-training program. One day I was running late and missed the last team training session. The trainer asked me to wait to see what he could do for me. He came back a few minutes later and shared that he would be willing to personally train Joy and me for one hour at no extra cost. We were impressed with the offer and the personal attention we received for the hour.

Joy and I mentioned to the training director that we would like to train in the team training area by ourselves during the off hours. We like to do this because it is quiet in the room and we are able to think while we exercise. As a result of this conversation, the training director decided to initiate a rule that only team training members can use the exercise room during off hours.

By going the extra mile in both cases, this business was able to please two members and made them feel special. Because of this special treatment, we will keep our membership, tell other potential members about the customer service, and the training director was able to initial a special “value-added” service to sell future potential team members when explaining why they should join team training.

Challenge plus Opportunity equals Business Success

What extra customer service can you give your customers so that they will continue to do business with you?

3. Grow Your Business With the Ultimate Customer Experience
We continue to shop at a local grocery store chain that has higher prices, yet provides a combination of customer service tools that create the ultimate customer experience. They always have fresh, high quality produce and meats; they provide superior customer service every step of the way; and they give us the opportunity to save by offering double and triple coupons. Management is always visible to answer questions and assist the customer in any way possible. The clerks are always happy to look in the stockroom when asked. They create an enjoyable shopping experience every time. When was the last time you had a truly enjoyable customer experience?

4. Grow Your Business By Hiring the Right Customer Service Personnel
We use a mailing retail establishment that is two miles further than the same establishment one mile away. Why do we do this? Because the business further away took the time to connect with us. They hire clerks with personality, who are excited to help us with our business. When we come to the store, they greet us by name and move quickly to retrieve our mail. When I call on the phone to see what mail has arrived, they are quick to find out and tell me exactly what mail arrived, thus saving me drive time.

As with previous examples, these companies hire right the first time and will not accept employees who don’t meet their standards.

Are your business frontline people helping you grow your business or putting you out of business?

5. Grow Your Business By Getting Involved With Your Customers
Whether you own your business or are a manager for a business, get involved with your customers so that you can meet their goals. Take time to reach out to your customers by asking them about their customer experiences in your establishment. If needed, send surveys and offer a bonus for responding. The more your customer sees that you care about them, the more they will care about your business and increase your bottom line.

Apply these five customer service secrets to grow your business and your business will be even more successful during any economic environment.

Author's Bio: 

Ed Sykes is a highly sought after customer service expert, author, professional speaker, and success coach. You can e-mail him at mailto:esykes@thesykesgrp.com or call him at (757) 427-7032. Go to his web site, http://www.thesykesgrp.com/CustomerSvctrg01.htm, and signup for the newsletter, OnPoint, and receive his free ebook, "Secrets of Outstanding Customer Service."