Exceptional customer service is a true skill. It’s an area that touches every aspect of business. Providing exceptional customer service can lead to increased sales and customer loyalty. In fact, “72% of consumers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people.” But the benefits don’t end there. Exceptional customer service also impacts the bottom line. It costs less to keep a customer than to get a new one.

Training staff in the keys to exceptional customer service is the first step. But how, with so many personalities and job functions within one company? The seven steps below are a great place to start for exceptional customer service:

Make it part of the culture

One of the best ways to provide exceptional customer service is to model what it looks like. How senior staff treat their team and employees will impact the internal culture. Keshav Sridhar, Author and Corporate Trainer, believes employees are your first customers. “If internal customers are not delighted, external customers can never be delighted,” he writes for Entrepreneur. What feelings would you like customers to feel when engaging with your staff? Model that some behavior to help your employees understand what to do.

Cultivate the relationship

Exceptional customer service starts with listening and stepping into your customer's shoes. Getting to know your customers is one way to do so. Customers want to know you care. Social media and email marketing have made it easy to get to know more about them. Create conversations with your customers and respond to them. This makes customers feel appreciated and that you value what they have to say.

Be open to feedback

What are your goals? Aside from increasing sales, it’s likely your customers are at the center of what you do. Seeing customers as collaborators will take your customer service to the next level. “Great interactions begin with knowing your customers’ wants and needs. Customers love personalization,” insists software company Superoffice. To turn customers into raving advocates, take their feedback into consideration. Applying these can elevate your products and services, as well as help you stand out in your industry.

Reflect the business’s professionalism

It’s crucial to keep situations from escalating. Keeping a level of professionalism can define your customer service. A few ways to do so? Focus on positivity and stay polite, even in challenging situations. Gratitude, respect and friendless will reflect the values of your company. “The best customer service employee will be able to move easily between channels and solve problems with the skills that best suits each channel,” explains Zendesk. Knowing how to navigate a situation is key to exceptional customer service.

Keep your promises

Trust is important to customer success. Exceptional customer service begins with delivering on your brand promise. Are you positioning yourself as the fastest or safest solution in the market? Then how you handle your products and services will set you apart. Customers are looking to make sure you deliver on what you say you will. As you listen to customer feedback, make adjustments and improvements where needed. This will also show that you’re committed to delivering on those promises.

Own up to your mistakes

When setbacks happen, be open and honest about them. Clients and customers will appreciate you keeping them informed. At ConsumerAffairs, transparency is a major key to customer service. Review collection helps with keeping transparency and even developing a relationship with customers. Brands like Netflix, AirBnB, and Apple have used the power of owning up to their mistakes. Creativity and innovation often comes with risks. Rather than mask those mistakes, customers delight in seeing brands find new solutions. Training your staff to see these solutions also breeds exceptional customer service!

Be consistent

Like good sales, great customer service occurs over time. The more you deliver, the more good service will be synonymous with your business. To make this part of the culture, create team values and check in with staff on how they’re upholding them. Listening to your customers as well will make it easier to stay consistent. Use reviews and online forums to get to know what your customers are looking for. Then make this part of your company’s standard.

Delighting customers creates happy customers and the best brands find unusual ways to delight them! Exceptional customer service can make your brand stand out. Training staff, delivering on your brand promise, and listening to feedback are just a few ways to do so. Start a dialogue with your customers to learn what they need and want. With exceptional customer service, customers will see you as the industry go-to!