Providing exceptional customer service is one of the best ways that any business can differentiate itself from the competition. For small businesses, customer service offers a golden opportunity to outdo their larger competition. Larger companies usually have an advantage when it comes to overhead costs, marketing budgets, production methods, and more… so it is important for small businesses to take advantage of every single opportunity that they have to stand out from their larger competitors.

That’s why I’m always so surprised that so many small businesses are putting little emphasis on service (other than lip service) and as a result, are being outperformed by their larger competition.

The truth is that if you don’t find a way to provide a high level of customer service, your business is never going to reach its potential. The truth is that few businesses are unique. Your competition may not be directly across the street, or even in your town; technology and the internet have made the world much smaller. So even if you don’t see or interact with competitors on a daily basis, they are out there.

I’m not trying to scare you. I want you to realize that your products and services alone are not enough to build a world class organization. At some point, either today or in the future, your customers will have the opportunity to do business with a competitor.

When that moment comes, the quality of the service you have provided may well be the determining factor in whether they remain loyal or choose to move on.

At the same time, providing top-notch service, at every step of the customer journey, will pay dividends beyond simply helping you retain your customers. Delivering exceptional services has the effect of turning your customers into promoters, people who cannot stop spreading the word about your business. Have you ever had such a great experience with a business that you had to share it with your friends, family member, and colleagues? If so, you were a promoter for that business. And as you know, there is no more powerful marketing tool than customers who love to promote your business!

In the next two articles in this series, we will discuss specific strategies and tactics to enable you to deliver exceptional customer service that will not only help you retain your customers—but will also turn them into active promoters of your business.