Many people claim to believe in the value of customer service. However, most don't really institute programs that ensure they are going the extra mile and can be implemented consistently over time. It's more like they get a spark of creativity and take brief action. Then, within a very short time they are on to something else. Times are very competitive and you need a differentiator. Customer service can be the difference between keeping and losing a client.

If you think about why clients leave, the vast majority leave because they feel unappreciated. It’s not about price or quality, it’s about service. So there is real value in figuring out what you can do to add value to your product or service. So, what really matters to your clients? What might they want from you? Is it doable?

I have a friend who created a system for reaching out to her clients. She hired a part-time person to go , through the files and develop a spreadsheet for outreach. The goal is to speak with each client a couple of times per year. She realized that speaking with her clients was an important part of retention. When you reach out to your clients you accomplish two things. 1. You let them know that you care about them. You aren’t selling them anything; you are just checking in to see how they are doing. 2. You learn about what is going on with them. This can be invaluable. If they are going through tough times you need to know. If they are growing you should know this as well. If they have a need for something, especially something you don’t offer, you have the chance to help them by connecting them to a resource.

This is really only one example of customer service. Other ideas include tacking on a service that enhances their experience but doesn’t cost them more money. Zappos Shoes has a 365 day return policy no questions asked. Can you think of any other company offering a whole year to return an item? I can’t. What about sharing a resource list with your clients? This not only has the potential of helping them, but also helping your connections. Take clients to lunch on their birthdays, send them a card out of the blue (not connected to a holiday or anniversary), or mail them a clipping of an article you think they’d be interested in.

The other day I received a postcard in the mail from the local craft store where I shop. Last year I signed up for their VIP club because I was shopping there so often. This postcard informed me that because I was a “best customer” they were extending my VIP membership for one extra year – AT NO CHARGE! How nice! AND, they went ahead and automatically extended the expiration date in their system so I didn’t have to do anything to receive this bonus. May seem like a little thing but it showed me that I am appreciated. These things matter. The cost to the store was very little. The benefit will be huge!

Any one of these ideas will help differentiate your company as one that truly cares about their clients. The key is to make it a standard practice so you are sure it happens all the time – and hits every client. It’s easy to focus on the big clients, and even easier to offer those big clients special incentives. After all, you are realizing a lot of revenue from them. However, every client counts; not only for their business but for the referrals they can send you. This is why having a system is so important. It ensures that you are providing that extra something to all of your clients. You’re not spending time thinking about it, evaluating it, or weighing the advantages. Just do it!

Start with one program that you can get started quickly and with little effort. Work it for a year. Then if you want to, you can change it or add in another program. Watch what other companies (outside of your industry) do to see which ideas you like. Make a commitment to your company that you will make this part of the normal operation of the company. You’ll find you enjoy greater client retention because they feel valued.

Author's Bio: 

Diane Helbig is an internationally recognized business and leadership development coach, author, speaker, and radio show host. As a certified, professional coach, president of Seize This Day Coaching, Diane helps businesses and organizations operate more constructively and profitably. Diane is the author of Lemonade Stand Selling, and the host of Accelerate Your Business Growth Radio show.