If your business really wants to differentiate itself, providing exceptional customer service is an excellent way to do it. When your competition is offering the same types of services, high level customer service can help catch customers’ attention.

Start by defining customer service for your team. For example, rather than teaching your team to be proactive in a general sense, give them the specific steps for how to be proactive, in which situations, at what time, and with whom. With measurable, specific customer service goals as your foundation, apply the following guidelines.

Utilize your team. Make sure the team member best-equipped to serve the customer is the one serving the customer.

Listen to your customers. Have face-to-face conversations and ask for feedback.

If applicable, clearly define A, B, C, and D customers, and utilize customer service hours accordingly. In simplest terms, A customers should receive more time than B customers, B should receive more than C, and so on.

Consult with your clients. Discover your customer’s needs. Determine how you can help and what it would cost, and then offer your help. You’re not just selling products or services, you’re meeting needs.

Be responsive and timely. Customers expect work to be done on time, and they want your help. If your business is unresponsive and behind schedule, they’ll go elsewhere. Consistently meeting and exceeding these core expectations can differentiate your customer service for the better.

Always work toward better service and delivery. When your prices increase, are the services you provide your customers improving commensurately? Keep your team learning and striving for better, more efficient service.

Aim to keep customers for life. Loyal customers bring more to your business, are willing to buy additional services and try new products, and refer more customers. Just because you’ve satisfied the basic requirements of customer service doesn’t mean you’ve earned a loyal customer. Ask what else they need.

Your customer service goals should impact your hiring decisions. Many companies are focusing on soft skills and the ability to contribute to/fit in with the firm’s culture.