I've put together a small list of ways to keep and acquire new customers through service.
1. Positive upbeat energy. If you answer your phone with a smile, the person on the other end will know. They will immediately be placed in a more positive state of mind.
2. Sense of urgency. Make sure when a customer calls to ask a question or to get information, make sure you understand that the faster you get the information into their mind, the more they will know that you care about their business. If you let your customer go for a few days and not get back with them, they will definitely already have someone else in mind to do the job. You cannot take your time these days to stay competitive. And it doesn't matter what you do, whether it's real estate or cashier, there are other people out there who will care about their needs. And you want to be that person. Your customer wants to feel that he is your only customer. So do your best to do so.
3. Listen & Follow-up. Listen and answer questions. Listening is the best way to get to know your customer. If you're too busy telling them what they need without listening to what they want, you have failed. And whatever you do, don't leave your customers hanging. They probably need the information to complete their project. Get them the information requested and in a timely manner.
4. Empathy. Most of the time when customers complain, they actually have something to complain about. And as a business owner, that is sometimes the most valuable information you can get. What you want to do is listen to their concern. You want to put yourself into their shoes and see what you would want to happen should the positions be reversed. Usually you will find a good compromise that will keep them as a customer. Make sure they know you understand how they feel. 9 times out of 10, they want someone to listen to the complaint so it can be avoided in the future.
One of the best books I've seen on customer service is Customer Service For Dummies, Third Edition
Karen Leland and Keith Bailey
It can be purchased at the address below and is great for training others