?Business marketing is more complex than ever. Giant retail chain stores, online shopping and rampant franchising make it tough for individual businesses to stand out in the crowd. So, how can you woo and win today's over-stimulated consumer? It's easier than you think. Winning word-of-mouth advertising and repeat business Customers talk. Whether they have a great experience or a bad experience with your company, they'll share it with everyone they know. Remember the last time you tried a new restaurant? How many people did you tell about the food? What was their reaction? When you provide a positive experience for one of your customers, you've just put up a very convincing, traveling billboard, and it doesn't cost a penny. Happy customers won't just send other customers to you; they'll come back to you. It's this repeat business that creates long-term success. Many companies can get the consumer's attention, but good customer service is what will keep their attention. Three secrets for giving great customer service As the president of American Steel Buildings, a leading steel building supplier for the self-storage industry, I've tested out my share of advertising and marketing tactics. Over the years, I've learned that good customer service is the key to gaining new customers, keeping old ones and getting the recognition your company deserves. Here are a few of the customer service strategies that have worked for my business. Share your expertise with customers One of the best ways to build customer loyalty and brand recognition is to share your knowledge. My company helps many new self-storage businesses come to life. One way we set ourselves apart from our competitors is to give these new self-storage investors the support and information they need by answering their questions and publishing a self-storage industry newsletter. Some of our competitors withhold information until they've made the sale, or worse yet, give bad advice just to make a sale. Customers quickly lose respect for this type of business and go elsewhere, taking other customers with them. Go above and beyond I train my staff at American Steel Buildings to make the customer happy at all reasonable costs. I believe in selling a good product at a fair price but sometimes you have to go one step further. One of our customers who had ordered and used us to erect one of our self-storage buildings had a slight leak during a hard rain. One of his elderly customers had stored a worn, wobbly table and it suffered some water damage. It probably wouldn't have brought $10 at a rummage sale. Still, it was important enough to her that she had paid and trusted our customer's business to store it. Our customer informed us of the situation and told us she wanted $250 in damages so she could replace the table. We could have just given her the fair market value, but we sent her a check for $300, along with our sincere apology. It sounds expensive, but in the long run it was well worth the customer referrals and continued business of one happy customer. Little things mean a lot Sometimes the smallest effort on your part to treat the customer as an individual can net great returns. Do you use one of those supposedly efficient automated greeting systems? If so, try ditching it for a friendly, helpful staff member. Also, if you track customer information, add personal details to each file. Then, when you talk with a customer, ask them about their family or favorite hobby. A personal touch goes a long way to win the hearts and business of prospective customers. Visit American Steel Buildings at to see excellent customer service in action, or call us at 800.400.5121. A friendly, knowledgeable staff member is waiting for your inquiry.