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Businesses are constantly competing for customers, and you have to make your business stand out to succeed. While providing quality products and services is a must, there’s one more way to make your business stand out: By providing excellent customer service. When you provide exceptional customer service, customers spend more money with your company, do business with you time and again and recommend your business to friends and family.

Offering excellent customer service goes beyond having a friendly staff and quick service. There are several keys to providing customer service that will leave your customers feeling satisfied.

Know your customers.

You can’t serve your customers well if you don’t know your customers. That means knowing what your typical customer is looking for. Are your customers tech savvy? Do they value personal contact? Knowing these distinctions can help you to shape your customer experience. Will you offer a streamlined online appointment system or have an office staff dedicated to answering phones and calling to set appointments? Knowing your customer also means knowing individual customers. Remember names and preferences. Know when a customer appreciates an expedited service and when a customer likes to have products and services thoroughly explained.

Anticipate customer needs.

When you know your customers, you can anticipate their needs. Meeting a customer’s needs before those needs are voiced takes customer service to the next level. Does the customer who has called to arrange a chimney sweeping also have a ventless gas unit? Ask if they’d like to have their other appliance serviced at the same time their chimney is swept. That customer who likes to be walked through every service experience? Schedule extra time in your technician’s service schedule so he or she doesn’t have to rush that customer and can answer any questions thoroughly.

Put the customer first.

One of the biggest benefits of running your own business is setting your own terms. You decide what your operating hours will be and how you’ll run your business, right? Wrong. Running a business means putting customers’ needs first. You might prefer to be home for dinner every day, but if evening hours are more convenient for your customer, you’ve got to make the customers’ needs your priority.

Tout your excellent service.

Customers value an exceptional service experience, and they’re willing to pay more for it. More than advertising prices, sales or products, advertising your excellent customer service and your dedication to making customers happy can help to set your business apart from your competitors.

Give your employees the power to make things right.

Good customer service means knowing how to deal with an unhappy customer quickly and effectively. Dissatisfaction can grow while your customer waits to hear back from a manager. Give the employees who deal with customers the power to make amends when a customer isn’t satisfied. Let your employees know to offer an apology and give them parameters for making amends; let them know when to offer a discounted service, a refund or a repeat service.

Providing great customer service doesn’t have to require a lot of resources on your part. It’s a matter of taking the time to know your customer and being ready to meet your customers’ needs. By making customer service a priority, you can make your business stand out from the competition.