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Whether you're a solo entrepreneur or work with hundreds of employees, offering an amazing experience to your customers is of central importance. The quality of your customer relationships affects your success in several ways: the likelihood of clients continuing to do business with you, the volume of inquiries, and word-of-mouth influence in real-life and virtual communities. All of these factors have to do with your reputation — a precious commodity. Here are several ways to improve the reputation of your business by enhancing your customer relationships.

Be Friendly

Making customers feel uplifted and good is something only people can do — automated systems, however sophisticated, will never quite have that human touch. In an increasingly impersonal and fragmented culture, friendly interactions stand out and provide a welcome relief from the routine of a typical workday. When thinking about the question of what is customer service at its best, consider how an amiable, (appropriately) lighthearted, and humorous tone can smooth over touchy interactions and be a bright spot in the day for both you and your customer. Be savvy about best practices for video and chat-based communication — it takes research and common sense. It can be a challenge to detect social cues over the phone; if you're communicating with clients in this way, consider smiling slightly as you talk — it'll make all the difference in how you come across. 

Be Knowledgeable

Know your product, and make sure that all client-facing employees are intimately familiar with your product and process as well. Time invested in onboarding, continuing education, and ongoing communication about your product/service is time well-spent. Every new release should have concurrent training that gets employees up to speed efficiently. The result will be confident, well-versed responses to customer inquiries, accurate follow-up, and your customers feeling well-cared-for — all powerful enhancers of your public reputation. 

Be Honest

Honesty and integrity are crucial to the positive reputation of a business. Lack of focus on honesty may produce short-term gains, but in the long run is detrimental to your business's bottom line — and your legacy. Though "optics" is a frequently-used description of reputation in terms of public perception, it only scratches the surface of the true meaning of honesty and integrity. Honesty is what a leader or employee does when no one is watching. It starts at the top of an organization and is better "caught than taught." While high expectations are important, leading by example is the most powerful teacher. 

Be Empathetic

In tricky situations, always put yourself in your customer's shoes. This requires empathy, emotional intelligence, and willingness to ease your customer's mind as quickly as possible. An attitude of apathy pervades a good deal of everyday communication. Be different! Your customers will appreciate you for it. In every conversation, think back on your experiences with customer service representatives, and imagine yourself as the best, most empathetic helper you've encountered. This requires extended listening (without interruptions!), impeccable honesty, a problem-solving attitude, and readiness to follow up consistently. 

Be Timely

When working with customers, remember that in our fast-paced society, it's difficult to be kept waiting for long. Be timely and efficient, and train your employees to do the same. Being quickly responsive with a friendly attitude of calm is a delicate balance — but you can achieve it if your employees are well-supported and if you demonstrate these qualities as you go about your tasks. Long-term thinking applies here as well; while productivity is valuable, a high level of efficiency tends to bring about high-quality outcomes that result in strong customer satisfaction and enhancement of your reputation. Thoroughness is just as important as volume. 

Stellar customer service reflects positively on the health of your business and sets it up for future sustainability. Try these suggestions to boost the reputation of your business!