Whether you’re a solopreneur launching a technology startup, or a seasoned VP of marketing at a Fortune 500 brand, you cannot escape the ripple effect of customer service. If it’s positive, you might hear about it. And if it’s negative? You’ll feel it—usually in your bottom line. Regardless of your business model, or how much exposure you have to customers on a daily basis, the way that you and your staff treat them can make a world of difference as to whether or not they stick with you long-term. So instead of approaching customer service as a nice cherry on top of your strategy, regard it as what it is—a make or break foundational element within your business. Keep your customers coming back for years with these tips:

Deliver Comfort

When you think of customer service, you likely think of someone who can fix issues as they arise. But a larger percentage of good customer service actually comes from proactive nuances. If you head to a grocery store and find they have sanitizing wipes for the carts, you might breathe a sigh of relief that you’ll be spared picking up unnecessary germs.

Comfort can be manifested in a multitude of ways, but usually stems from being thoughtful about viewing customers as human beings. A touching example of this is when a Wendy’s employee was caught on camera grabbing an umbrella from an outdoor table and using it to walk an elderly man to his car in the middle of a rainstorm. The moral of the story? People want comfort, and to be treated as people.

Make Human Contact Accessible

This may seem obvious, but there are still a shocking number of companies who do not make it easy for a consumer to talk to someone within the walls of their company. As a business, your contact information should be boldly displayed on your website and marketing materials, and whenever possible, it’s wise to have an individual answer the phone instead of a machine. If you don’t have the bandwidth to do this with your current staff, consider engaging with a cloud contact center. Using a service like this allows customer call back abilities, which could lead to greater sales, and the capacity to scale up as needed without sacrificing customer attention.

American Airlines is an example of a brand that missed the mark with delivering human contact. The company was caught sending upbeat, irrelevant responses to customer complaints through Twitter. It became glaringly obvious that these communications were automated, and the veneer of personalized customer service was harshly illuminated for all to see. Don’t let your customers feel duped. Establish ways to authentically connect with them, through real interactions over social media using a robust social media management tool that provides in-depth customer insights giving businesses the opportunity to provide tailored personalized responses coupled with an actionable Social CRM database.

Offer Convenience

The third prong of customer service that is best not to ignore is convenience. Whenever possible, anticipate what your buyer is going to want and remove as many obstacles to getting that as you can. Organize your website so visitors have very few clicks to get to your product. Be sure you don’t discriminate by channel, either. Offering a coupon to online customers that you won’t accept in stores is sure to dissuade some customers from taking advantage of the deal altogether. Similarly, including stringent guidelines for using an offer like only accepting it if it’s printed, will increase the odds a prospective customer will give up entirely. In this digital age, everything you deliver should be available via as many channels as possible. Customers will choose the path of least resistance, so make that the one you want them to choose.

If you’re hankering to see a surge in sales and to have lifelong devotees to your brand, you can’t let deliberate customer service fall through the cracks. When discussing your business’ overall strategy, incorporate the goal of making your customers happy as a key factor. Work to give them comfort, human contact, and convenience. With these points as the hallmark of your customer approach, you’ll see loyalty in spades, and revenue that steadily increases.

Gavin Hammar

Tech entrepreneur, software developer and founder of Sendible.com.

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