Treat Them Well: 5 Keys to Lasting Customer Service

A valued customer is a happy one, which almost always leads to profits.

learn more about Eric Schiffer

By Eric Schiffer • Feb 27, 2014

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"Build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful." -- Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon.com

If you attended a party where the host snarled at you, reluctantly offered you a drink, looked past you to greet someone deemed more important and basically couldn't wait until you left -- chances are you would leave, slamming the door behind you.

Unfortunately, that's the experience many of us receive today. We're not treated as a valued customer -- a guest -- to be respected, we're a nuisance to be endured. We're the blaring car alarm when they're trying to sleep. Flipping to the company view: customer service has become a dirty phrase.

Related: Listen Up: How to Respond to Customer Complaints

In my experience as CEO of a large digital marketing company and board member to others, companies that are too focused on new business risk ignoring, alienating and then losing the clients and business they already have. Customers that are taken for granted soon leave, and business suffers.

Here are five simple keys I follow and expect people in my organization(s) to follow, and hope they'll unlock the door to your greater success:

1. Use the right term. First, I don't call people clients, or even customers. At my company we refer to them as "guests," for they are our guests, and we are their host. We are always happy to see them and strive to make their time with each of us a great experience.

Related: Customer Retention Begins on the Front Lines

2. Anticipate needs. A great waiter knows when to refill your glass or bring the check, just as a great company anticipates what their guests need -- often before they know it themselves.

3. Give respect. It costs nothing to be courteous, but you can pay dearly if you aren't.

4. Treat everyone like a VIP. "There's only one boss, the customer," Sam Walton once said. "He can fire everybody from the chairman on down simply by spending his money elsewhere."

5. Show immediate action and solutions, not blame. Sometimes things get messed up, but apologies, which matter, mean nothing if they aren't followed by action. Well done is better than well said.

In short, a great guest experience isn't a department. At my company it's everybody's job and, as Henry Ford said: "A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large."

Related: 9 in 10 Customers Will Switch to the Competition If You Don't Treat Them Well (Infographic)

Eric Schiffer

CEO of Reputation Management Consultants

Eric Schiffer is a leading international expert in reputation, brand and political strategy, business and finance, cybersecurity and technology, providing his keen insights and expertise to Fortune 500 CEOs, foreign leaders, celebrities, Forbes 400 billionaires and hundreds of media organizations.

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