4 Simple Customer Service Strategies Every Business Should Use for Positive Word-of-Mouth

Whether your company provides goods or services to people (B2C) or to other businesses (B2B), a good customer service team can be your company’s saving grace. Show your customers you care about them, because in the end they are the people who pay your bills.

We have tons of personal customer service horror stories here in the office, and we love to share them. Word-of-mouth marketing can be amazing for a company, but it can also be a curse because the bad stories will always outweigh the good. Also, social media users are more likely to spread complaints about companies online, so you can never be too careful!

Are you doing everything in your power to boost your customers’ experiences? What do you think they’ll say when they tell friends and family about your company?

When it comes to treating your customers well and getting proactive with word-of-mouth reviews, try these strategies on for size:

1: Be Personal and Build Relationships

Yes ma'am, I've never been more ready to help you!

Yes ma’am, I’ve never been more ready to help you!

Make your customers feel welcome and appreciated no matter which communication channel you prefer — in person, on the phone, or via e-mail. Even if you know a particular customer isn’t going to immediately do business with you, you should still build a relationship and try to relate to them on a personal level. When you make that personal connection, they will have more trust in you.

Quick tip: Forgive the cliche, but put yourself in your customer’s shoes when working on their problem or addressing their concern. How would you expect to be treated in the same situation? Don’t lose your patience if you can possibly help it.

2: Go Above and Beyond

Small gestures of kindness go a long way when it comes to keeping a customer happy. You don’t have to constantly bend over backwards, but you should make a genuine effort once and a while. For example, handwritten “thank you” notes work wonders after a business exchange. A short (but personalized) birthday email shows attention to detail. Also, a brief courtesy call is a friendly gesture and a means to check in and make sure everything is working out with the product/service. These little nods aren’t a necessity, but they make a customer feel appreciated and respected.

Quick tip: Set reminders via your email or smartphone if you have difficulty remembering important customer dates. Track your giveaways or thank you cards in a spreadsheet so you’ll know to follow up after a specific amount of time. Also, personalization means more than sticking a customer’s name into a template — tailor each card or email you send and make it count!

3: Be Enthusiastic and Helpful

I love walking into a store and hearing someone greet me with a smile and a friendly greeting; it makes me want to spend more time and money there. If you show people you want to be there (even if you don’t), then it creates a good atmosphere. This is true with online businesses, too. If you use positive words and offer your help in emails and during live chats, that encouraging vibe will translate into job enthusiasm.

Along with being friendly and helpful, it’s also just as important to be well-trained and knowledgeable in your field. A firm grasp of policies illustrates that you have pride in the service you’re providing, and that (combined with your enthusiasm) will ultimately make your customer confident in your abilities.

Quick tip: Have you ever been completely baffled by a client’s question? Don’t sweat it. Use that friendly attitude to tell the asker you’ll have to double check to find out the answer, put them on hold for a minute, and ask a supervisor. You’d be surprised how much a positive outlook can diffuse a potentially catastrophic situation!

4: Do Whatever You Can to Say Yes

Say YES whenever you can!

Say YES whenever you can!

I completely understand that company policies are put in place for a reason, but bending the rules for one person doesn’t mean you have to do it for everyone. In special circumstances, be willing to compromise and give a customer the benefit of the doubt. It’s not worth losing them over a trivial argument. Saying yes also ties back into being personable and going above and beyond; if you hear what the client is telling you and make the extra effort to fix the issue at hand, then you are sending the message that they are your number one priority (something EVERY customer wants).

Quick tip: You don’t have to say YES to everything! However, you should be willing to take an extra step for a customer who may need special treatment. If you need to make a separate phone call to your manager to approve a fee reversal, then take the time to do that instead of getting lazy and claiming there’s “nothing you can do.” That additional effort means a lot to the customer!

It’s much less expensive to keep existing customers than it is to find new ones, which is one of the many reasons you should re-evaluate your customer service from time to time to verify it’s up to speed. Make customers feel appreciated and go out of your way to show them you care. Stay positive and make yourself readily available to provide assistance when needed. And remember, if your customers ask for something specific, do whatever you can to avoid a conflict and give them what they want (within reason). In the end, it will benefit your business more to keep that customer happy versus getting bad word-of-mouth reviews from an issue that could have been easily avoided in the first place.

How else could you keep customers happy and show them you care? Do you have any good stories about companies showing you they care? Are you more likely to take the time and give good or bad reviews about a business? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Mandy Kilinskis

    For a fifth tip, I would add, “Address problems and concerns genuinely.” It’s inevitable that something will go wrong, but how you handle the problem can mean the difference between PR disaster and lifelong brand loyalty. In fact, unsatisfied customers, once satisfied, are generally 10 times more loyal than customers who never had a problem.

    Uhhh…that’s awesome. Talk about some positive word-of-mouth. 🙂

    • Jen

      I really like your suggestion Mandy, and that’s a really interesting statistic… somehow it makes a lot of sense.

  2. Jill Tooley

    I’m always less angry when I’m speaking with a CALM, rational employee. I can usually tell from the first spoken word whether or not the interaction will end well! For some reason, it’s so darn hard to be mad at someone who’s friendly no matter what. I suppose that’s where the phrase, “kill ’em with kindness” comes from…

    Before I worked retail, I would lose my temper with employees from time to time. Now, I honestly do try to put myself in their shoes before reacting. Is it the employee’s fault that something went wrong, or is it the policy that made things inconvenient? Likely, it’s the policy, and that means the employee is only doing his/her job. We can’t fault them for that! A little bit of empathy goes a long way 🙂

    And on a side note, I’ve referred plenty of companies who I’ve had negative experiences with — like Amazon. They’ve messed up things before, but they’ve always fixed the issue almost immediately. In the end, it was their impeccable customer service that earned them my loyalty!

    Nice post, Jen!

    • Jen

      Thanks Jill, I’ve also referred people to places I’ve had negative experiences with. One example is Chilis. The chef once ate my food (yes this is a real story, lol) but they apologized profusely and gave me a free meal and were really great about the whole thing. I still suggest we go there all the time and gush about their yummy food and great deals to everyone. 🙂

      • Jill Tooley

        Worst chef ever! 😉

        That story still makes me laugh, because it’s SO ridiculous. And unbelievable.

  3. Rachel

    I really like your point about being enthusiastic, helpful, and well-versed in your field. Talking with someone who actually knows what they’re doing makes for SUCH a higher quality customer service experience. It’s all about trust and confidence!

    Great post, Jen — thanks for sharing!

  4. Jen

    Thanks Rachel! I think people sometimes overlook the simple details like enthusiasm, that give people a nice experience. And I agree having someone who is knowledgeable helping you makes the experience much better.

  5. Jeff Porretto

    I think #3 is the most important personally. I CAN’T STAND when the person I’m trying to get help from OBVIOUSLY doesn’t want to help me. I can’t imagine too many ways to make your company look worse than by obviously not caring…

  6. Candice J.

    I think the one I most subscribe to is Go Above and Beyond. I’m the type of person who doesn’t just do her job I try to go above and beyond especially when I worked in customer service. I think its so important to try to do everything in your power to go above and beyond to help someone because you have no idea the long lasting positive effect it has. My motto was always “Give the type of service you’d like to receive.” You wouldn’t want someone to give you crappy, useless service so don’t give that type of service to them.

  7. Eric

    “Above and Beyond” ALWAYS works. Why? Not only is the customer happy, but usually, he or she is so happy they can’t believe it, and feel compelled to tell someone else about their customer service experience.

    I bought Gillette’s newest shaving razor awhile back, and – ever after a good ‘ol college try – I couldn’t come to like it. Regrettably, I wrote the first customer complaint I’ve written in my life. The very next day, they wrote to apologize (not just some nameless corporate head, but a person with a name) and told me compensation would be sent in the mail. And, a week later, it came. A hand-signed letter from the person I corresponded with, and moreover, two coupons (one for a new razor, one for a pack of refill blades).

    The value of what I got with those coupons?

    $30. Did I tell everyone I know about how damn pleased I was? You betcha.

    Made me wish that every company took as good care of their customers as Gillette does!

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