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The Ultimate 6-Step Guide to Building Lifelong Customers with Excellent Customer Service Elevate your company out of the deadly commodity zone by creating "wow" moments in your customer service experience, a proven way to build customer loyalty, engagement and ambassadorship.

By Micah Solomon

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every day, as a customer service consultant and customer service turnaround expert and trainer, I work with companies to lift themselves up and out of the cluttered marketplace in which many of today's businesses find themselves.

My goal with each of my clients is to use exceptional customer service to elevate you to the point that you are no longer considered an interchangeable commodity in the eyes of your customers. Through developing an ethos and practice of exceptional customer service, we work together to get their companies to a place where they command engagement and true loyalty from their customers for now and as they grow.

To create lasting impressions and build enduring loyalty, businesses need to transcend the realm of the ordinary and venture into the extraordinary. This is because humans remember events in their lives in terms of images and in stories they tell themselves. And a great way to have your business and brand star in these stories is to deliver "wow" experiences that will leave an indelible mark in your customers' minds.

A "wow" customer experience requires you to go beyond just fulfilling basic expectations. It's about serving (and, ultimately, engaging) customers in creative, unexpected ways that connect emotionally with them. Such experiences live on in customers' memories and become stories shared with friends, family, coworkers and potentially a wider audience through social media.

Related: Yes, the Rich Are Different — Here Are 5 Customer Service Secrets I Learned While Working With Wealthy Clients

Creating wow moments not only benefits customers but also inspires employees. It can foster teamwork, improve employee retention and boost company-wide morale. But how can your organization consistently deliver such remarkable experiences?

Here is a six-step blueprint for achieving 'wow' customer service and creating lifelong customers:

1. Empower employees to create 'wow' moments

The first step towards creating 'wow' experiences is the (scary) one of empowering your employees. They should feel confident about making on-the-spot decisions without needing managerial approval every time. And don't treat empowerment as some add-on or "nice-to-have." rather, the time spent by your employees creating 'wow' is their job.

2. Celebrate 'wow' efforts

When employees go the extra mile for customers, applaud their efforts rather than penalize them for spending extra time. Positive reinforcement encourages employees to continue delivering exceptional service. You need to take care not to criticize your employees if they don't complete all their functional, checklist-type items because they were otherwise engaged in creating 'wow.' Or to give them a hard time if their early, awkward efforts at 'wow' don't go entirely smoothly.

Related: The Importance of Recognizing Your Employees

3. Encourage anticipatory service

Anticipating and addressing needs or desires that customers haven't even voiced can significantly enhance customer service. Strive to serve even the unexpressed needs and wishes of your customers. This depends on various factors and behaviors working in concert:

•Training your employees in what is called "situational empathy": the type of empathy that can be transformational, in real-time, on the phone call or face-to-face or digital interaction that your employee is engaged in with a customer right now

• Collecting useful data on individual customers and their preferences and past behaviors and putting this conveniently at the fingertips of your customer-facing employees

• A mindset — that needs to start, organizationally, at the top — that we are more than order takers and problem solvers; we are here to find ways to go above and beyond in ways that our customers will find both useful and "wowing."

4. Be mindful of timing

Not every interaction is an opportunity for a 'wow' moment. A customer in a rush or busy with their phone call may not appreciate an interruption, no matter how well-intentioned. Train your employees to recognize when it's the right and wrong time to 'wow' customers. If an employee is sensing a "please, just the facts!" attitude or a sense of being in a hurry, then the employee should back off and save their 'wow' efforts for another more suitable moment. (Or, if this seems to be always the disposition of this particular customer, then they should save the 'wow' to use on other customers who will be more appreciative.)

Related: Investing in Your Employees Is the Smartest Business Decision You Can Make

5. Create 'wow' moments through meaningful connections

'Wow' moments don't always require grand gestures. Sometimes, an empathetic conversation or an emotional connection can leave a lasting impression. For instance, Zappos employees strive to make a connection on every phone call by bonding over shared interests or concerns based on cues they pick up on from the customer.

6. Hire wow-capable employees

While almost any employee can be trained to deliver 'wow,' starting with the right team can make your journey smoother. Aim to hire individuals who naturally exude warmth, empathy, teamwork, conscientiousness and optimism – traits that are instrumental in delivering 'wow' customer service.

Creating 'wow' customer service is a strategic process that requires a shift in mindset, a commitment to employee empowerment, and a focus on anticipatory service. By implementing these steps, you can create memorable customer experiences, build enduring loyalty and ensure the sustainability of your business model.

Micah Solomon

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Customer Service Consultant, Trainer

Customer service transformation expert, consultant, author, keynote speaker. Named "World's #1 customer service transformation expert" by Inc. Magazine. Reachable at micahsolomon.com. Very happy to hear from any readers at any time.

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