Why does customer service matter?

Because customers vote with their dollars.

When was the last time you exceeded your customers’ expectations or made them feel special?

How do you encourage them to come back and do more business with your company and recommend your business to friends?

Try these steps from business consultant and About.com and SCORE contributor Susan Ward to get more of your customers’ votes:

Determine what makes what you offer special. What can you offer your customers that is “better” than the competition? If you sell a product that your competitor doesn’t, offer free local delivery. If you sell a service, such as bookkeeping or accounting, focus on improving turnaround times.

Make a list of customer-service ideas. Only choose what you can definitely do 100 percent of the time. Choose only the best ideas and implement them.

Do it and let people know that you’re doing it. Feature this aspect of your customer service in ads you run, including your yellow pages listing. Put it on your business cards and in your email signature. Make it part of your greeting when you answer the phone. Ask for testimonials from satisfied customers to use in print ads, in your e-communications and as references for potential customers.

Keep gathering customer-service ideas. Listen to your customers and find out what kind of special customer service they want. Use a customer satisfaction feedback form or ask customers when they’re in your store or office.

For more customer-service ideas, go to SCORE’s Resources page, www.score.org/resources  or find Ward’s articles direct at http://bit.ly/131uynv  and http://bit.ly/14j29a2 

BizTip books out

Ralph Hershberger, past president of SCORE of Southern Arizona and a current SCORE mentor, wrote the BizTip of the Week column for about two years, and now he’s made his wisdom available in the form of three free e-books.

Hershberger, a longtime entrepreneur and small business owner, is president of Madera Associates LLC, a business consulting firm, and financial manager of Valley Verde Veterinarians in Green Valley.

For the e-books, the articles were divided into three subject areas, and each article is followed with links to related articles online by the SCORE and the Small Business Administration.

Download the books for free on Smashword.com using the following links:

How to Build a Small Business: Startup — http://tinyurl.com/kxg3nqc 

How to Build a Small Business: Marketing & Sales — http://tinyurl.com/ngxzr3d

How to Build a Small Business: Management & Strategies — http://tinyurl.com/pwrc8za

Diane Diamond is the vice president of media relations for SCORE Southern Arizona, a nonprofit group that offers free small-business counseling and mentoring by appointment at several locations. For more information, go to www.southernarizona.score.org, send email to mentoring@scoresouthernaz.org or call 505-3636.