Most successful service businesses thrive and prosper by making each customer feel like a loved individual and not just part of a collective of customers. Taking this on board lets focus on growing our businesses one customer at a time. If you do this time after time after time, you will soon experience rapid growth in your business.

Here are some tips to achieve this.

1. Realise that your people will treat your customer the way they are treated. Employees take their cue from management. Do you greet your employees enthusiastically each day; are you polite in your dealings with them; do you try to accommodate their requests; do you listen to them when they speak? Remember the internal culture of your organisation will be reflected in its external perception.

2. Do you know who your customers are? If a regular customer came in to your office, would you recognise them? Could you call them by name? All of us like to feel important; calling someone by name is a simple way to do it and lets them know you value them as customers.

3. Do your customers know who you are? If they see you, would they recognize you? Could they call you by name? A visible management is an asset.

4. Go the extra mile. Include a thank-you note in a customer's package; send a birthday card; clip the article when you see their name or photo in print; write a congratulatory note when they get a promotion. There are all sorts of ways for you to keep in touch with your customers and bring them closer to you. Check out our friends, Customer Love, for more ideas on this.

5. Are your customers greeted when they walk in the door or at least within 30-40 seconds upon entering? Is it possible they could come in, look around, and go out without ever having their presence acknowledged?

6.  If a customer makes a request for something special, do everything you can to say yes. The fact that a customer cared enough to ask is all you need to know in trying to accommodate them. It may be an exception from your policy, but (if it isn't illegal) try to do it. Remember you are just making one exception for one customer, not making new policy.

7. Are your associates properly trained in how to handle a customer complaint or an irate person? Give them guidelines for what to say and do in every conceivable case. People on the frontline of a situation play the most critical role in your customer's experience. Make sure they know what to do and say to make that customer's experience a positive, pleasant one.

8. Want to know what your customers think of your company? Ask them! Compose a “How Are We Doing?” card and leave it at the exit or register stand, or include it in their next statement. Keep it short and simple. Ask things like: what it is they like; what they don't like; what they would change; what you could do better; about their latest experience there, etc. To ensure the customer sends it in: have it pre-stamped. And if the customer has given their name and address, be sure to acknowledge receipt of the card.

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