There are a number of companies who pride themselves on providing excellent customer service — touting awards, testimonials, and rightfully proud of their ability to handle a crisis, restore service, and make right whatever is wrong.

And yet, this has nothing to do with providing outstanding customer service.

Customer service begins long before the first sign of trouble and the crisis begins.  Customer service isn’t an after-sell thought. And it’s separate from technical support.  Fixing problems and responding to troubled customers whose need for assistance is covered by a warrantee or service contract isn’t customer support, it’s an obligation.

Customer service is listening to your customer and truly understanding their needs, wants, and desires — helping them achieve their goals.  It’s not about giving things away for free, it’s simply about caring and acting sincerely in their interest, not yours.

Excellent customer service is demonstrated when solutions are offered before they’re asked for, when introductions are made to advance an idea or create a new opportunity, and when potential problems are discussed before they have an opportunity to develop.

Take the first step in delivering outstanding customer service:  talk to your best customer, discuss their business objectives and goals, focus on their interest, and explore how you and your company can advance their activity.  Don’t focus on your products or services, don’t worry about your quota, and don’t pitch your offering.  Just care.  And you’ll be rewarded with repeat business and referrals beyond your imagination.

How do you define excellent customer service?  Do you have any stories to share?

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