It's Not About You; It's About the Customer

When you are the customer, who is it all about? You, of course. That's why it's no different for your customers. They want what they want, when they want it, how they want it, and at a price they want. If you aren't ready, willing, and able to give it to them, they'll find another company that can.

So how can you meet their needs effectively? Here are a few quick tips:

For starters, make it easy for them to reach you, to talk to you, and to do business with you. If they call you on the phone and are put on hold with the message, "Your call is very important to us, please hold on", what message is that sending to your customer? Have a real, live person promptly answer your phone. And make sure that the employee knows how to properly answer the phone. Do they sound friendly and professional, or do they sound annoyed because they were just interrupted by the call?

Use your customers' names and give them yours. There's no better way to build rapport and personalize interactions than by using your customers' names. Dale Carnegie said "There's nothing sweeter than the sound of thine own name." People feel special when other people say their names. It makes them feel connected to you.

Ask your customers questions. Don't assume you know what they want. They rely on us to provide solutions to their problems. If we don't have all of the facts, how can we provide the most suitable recommendation?

Do what you say you're going to do. If you say you're going to call someone back by 3 p.m., do it. Even if you don't have the information you promised your customer, call by 3 p.m. and let her know you are still working on getting it for her. If you promised your customer delivery by Thursday, have the product there by Tuesday. And if you know it won't be there by Thursday, call in advance and let him know.

Thank your customers every time. Remember, they have a choice, and if you don't value their business and appreciate them, they will find someone who will.

There are no-cost ways to show customers your appreciation. You're a resource to your customers. What if you were a go-to person for them as well? If you supply promotional products, do you just want to be someone who can put their company name on a coffee mug, or do you want to be the person your customer calls when they need a recommendation to another type of business because they know you are so well connected?

You bring a lot of value to your customers. Show interest in your customers' businesses. Celebrate their successes and help them through the tough times. How do you know what's going on? Ask how else you can help them, what else they need, what keeps them up at night. Let them know that you know a lot of people and would like to be a resource for them? Do you ever say that to your customers? You should; it's important. And you never know what doors those questions can open.

Make it all about the customer and the customer will reward you with their business. They'll feel good about doing business with you. And they'll tell others about you and your company and the great service you provided. And that, my friend, is the best way to grow your business—by referrals from the people who are already doing business with you.

After all, it is all about the customer. Because without them, you don/t have a business.

Randi Busse is a customer service speaker, trainer, and author of Turning Rants Into Raves: Turn Your Customers On Before They Turn On YOU! Her company, Workforce Development Group, ( provides training and coaching to improve customer service, increase customer retention, and create a culture of ownership among employees.>