By Andrea Parker

Delivering and satisfying customers should be the cornerstone of every small business. It’s the way that your company can set itself apart from others in the industry, proliferate word of mouth marketing and allow your small business to thrive.  A commitment to delivering a premiere customer experience is essential to creating loyal customers, but how do you translate that into upsells and a booming referral business? Simple.  Know your customer and meet their needs.

Be available- If your phone is ringing, answer it.  If you have comments on your business’ Facebook wall, respond to them.  If someone walks into your shop and you’re with another customer, acknowledge him or her and let them you know you’ll be with them shortly. People want to know that your business is accessible and that it cares, so a simple act of acknowledgement can go a long way.

Keep promises – Did you commit to having an order arrive on a specific day? Insure that it does and that the customer is satisfied, but also make sure to set realistic expectations for your customer and your business. If you’re entering a busy season, let customers know that processing may take an additional day or two but their order will indeed arrive in the promised time frame and that you are appreciative of their business.

Accept feedback- Don’t forget to follow up with your customers with a thank you email or note and, most importantly, a brief survey about their experience. By asking a handful of open-ended questions in a non face-to-face setting, you allow your customer to give honest feedback, which can help your small business improve its way of doing business. Customer feedback is the most important and authentic kind; don’t miss a chance to follow up.

Handle complaints- If there was a mix-up on an order or a delay in shipping, address this snafu immediately and take responsibility. It is best to be proactive in these situations so that customer complaints don’t turn into social media bashing campaigns against your small business.  Apologize, fix the error and offer compensatory services, products or a discount on the next order.

Offer expertise- If a prospect, or even an established customer, may benefit from an additional product or service, bring it to their attention.  Since you are the expert, your informed opinion means a lot, especially if it comes off as a genuine interest in serving your customer. By linking or packaging like services or products, you make the opportunity for an upsell infinitely easier.

As a Brand Journalist at Infusionsoft, Andrea Parker helps small businesses succeed by creating original content for and managing the Big Ideas Blog, as well as creating e-books and infographics for small business consumption. Andrea is an award-winning writer and former professional steeplechaser with a penchant for reading, tutoring and baked goods. You can follow Andrea on the Big Ideas Blog and on Twitter @BigIdeasBlog.