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Fast Company had a terrific little piece the other day about “Seven Keys to Building Customer Loyalty and Profits,” the basics of which are worth considering:

• “Are your doorknobs sparkling brightly?” The point here is that customers remember the first and last moments of every shopping and service make sure that they are vivid and memorable.

• “Set your clocks forward.” E-tailers like Amazon and Zappos have set the bar high for fast and effective customer service. Even if you don’t compete with them, you compete with those standards. So you have to be fast and faster.

• “Allow your customers to connect with a real person--online or off.” Personalizing the service experience makes it more effective, whether in the store or on the internet.

• “Remember each customer's roles, goals, and preferences.” Some tracking systems are technology-based. Some are just employees with good memories. Regardless, customers respond to employees who remember them.

• “Anticipate a customer’s needs.” This is a corollary to number four. If an employee can anticipate what a customer wants rather than reacting to a specific request, that is a huge plus for a retailer.

• “Don't leave the language your team uses up to chance.” Fast Company writes that it is critical to “develop and rehearse a list of vocabulary words and expressions that fit your business brand perfectly--and ban, companywide, the ones that don't.”

• “Be patient when filling positions.” The suggestion here is that it is “better to hire for innate traits” rather than for specific skills,” even if it takes longer. The wait is almost always worth it.
KC's View:
All excellent bits of advice to be taken very seriously.