Ask someone about a particular business and you're likely to get an opinionated response. The Locator asked editor Stacy Phillips, a 14-year veteran in marketing and trade show coordination, to identify the most basic of customer service skills. Phillips has a bachelor's degree in mass communications, advertising and public relations. While the following basics may seem commonsense, they are also the ones most often forgotten during our day-to-day encounters.

Connect With Customers

Greet customers as soon as they enter your business. Make eye contact, and call them by name whenever possible. How great does it feel when someone you've met in passing later recalls your name? Suppose they not only remember your name, but other tidbits as well. My husband and I purchased our home 15 years ago. Recently, I needed advice and called our lender, who had since moved to another bank. I was shocked when he instantly remembered our family and home more than a decade later.

Be Generous & Kind

My daughter recently received a Color-A-Bag by ALEX. There was a minor issue: ink in one marker would not dry. It wasn't a huge problem. The overall quality of the product was great. When I contacted a customer service associate, I was floored by the response. First, she offered a simple tip that worked. Then, she wanted to determine if it was a widespread quality issue. She sent me another product, free of charge, for my troubles. Wow! Needless to say, I will buy more ALEX toys. And I won't hesitate to share with everyone how great the company is.

Make It Simple

How easy is it for customers to do business with you? Will they receive prompt service without hassles? I recently had a problem with a baby monitor, which was still under warranty. I made the dreaded call to customer service, but was pleasantly surprised. A new AC adapter (which I had requested) arrived along with an extra rechargeable battery (that the associate anticipated I might also need). I was impressed and wanted to tell everyone I knew.

Be Grateful

"Always say thank you." You've heard it before, but saying it is only half the task. Gratitude is being conscious of the benefits you've received by your encounter with a customer and then expressing it to them. Start by welcoming the client to the store; then listen to their problem, help them solve it, and show your gratitude for having the opportunity to help. Your customer will feel valued. Surprisingly, many first-point-of-contact employees never attempt to greet the customer, and even more forget to show thankfulness.

Employ Good People

Make sure your employees know your customer service expectations and empower them to make the customer happy. Several years ago, a local tire shop stripped the lug nuts on my husband's pickup. They wanted to charge him once to take the lug nuts off and again to replace them. My husband left the tire shop and took his pickup to a competitor. Not only did the competitor's mechanic do the work, he did it all at no charge. Can you guess where we take our vehicles for service now?

How does your business stack up? Implement these five basic rules to make every customer experience a jaw-dropping, loyalty-building occurrence.

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