Taking care of your customers is an important way to develop lifelong relationships that further the growth of your business. Customer service is more than a smile or timely resolution to a problem. To make sure your company is addressing each need of your customers and presenting the best image possible, consider these tips for crafting a strong customer service strategy.

1. Always Be Available

No matter how badly you want a day off, your customers may have questions or concerns that need to be addressed 24/7. This doesn’t mean that you have to be on call to answer phone calls or respond to emails every day of the week, but you should have a customer support team that is always available.

If you have a small customer base, you may be able to use a linked phone to route customer calls to an answering service for those days when you need a break. A service like Ninja Number lets you check the voicemails or get an email of the call when it’s convenient for you, but it gives your customers a way to reach out.

2. Use Technology for Customer Solutions

Not all of your consumers want to wait for someone to answer the phone. Trends are showing that more people are using digital channels like instant messaging through social media, email, or chatbots to have their complaints addressed.

Technology has made it a lot easier for you to open more channels of communication with your customers, but if you aren’t careful, these mediums have the potential for miscommunication or to present a poor company image. With digital customer service options, it also makes it easier for you to expand your customer service department, as employees can work remotely and have extended response hours.

3. Develop Memorable Experiences

Regardless of how your customer chooses to interact with your company (online, over the phone, or in-person), make sure that each experience stands out. Customer service starts the moment you engage with a consumer, whether they buy anything or are just looking. Too often employees think their customer service routine starts when they are handling a problem. Every single minute on the clock is important for developing a memorable experience. Smiles, personal greetings, extra-mile activities, and careful listening habits set the stage for when a customer does have a concern.

There are several minor changes that you can make to your interactions with customers that make a difference in their perception of treatment. Whenever possible, use your customer’s name. Don’t send a generic, welcome email to new consumers, but draft a more personable, specific-to-the-situation message. Use a personal email that includes the name of a real person as the sender instead of just customerservice@business.com. Every interaction should humanize the experience and bring value to individuals.

4. Turn Problems Into Opportunities

Your employees probably know that they are supposed to work toward resolution whenever a customer has a concern, but customer service activities shouldn’t always focus on playing defense. Train your employees to look for ways to turn problems into bigger opportunities.

Educate consumers on new products or solutions, going out of the way to prevent a future problem that could be anticipated with the customer. Some customers just like to complain and make a scene, while others have really experienced something unpleasant. Learn to see through situations for the bigger picture and extend your responses in a way that exceeds their expectations, even if has nothing to do with your company.

5. Reward Loyalty

Consumers want to be recognized as important pieces in your company’s success, and personalized services will foster greater loyalty and tap into this desire to be noticed. A loyalty program has two primary benefits. First of all, it allows your company to collect important data about your consumer base.

The more information you have about your clients or customers, the better you can target your services or products to meet their specific needs. Secondly, a loyalty program brings value to the consumers that have stayed with you through thick and thin. When your loyalty rewards are unique and personalized to those who have been faithful, you further cement their loyalty and earn bonus referral potential.

Customer service can be a difficult aspect of business operations, but it is an important one that should not be overlooked. How well you treat your customers has a significant impact on the longevity and success of your company.