In today’s highly competitive marketplace, customers are spoilt for choice and may demand more than just better product features, lower prices and convenience.

After all, these benefits could be easily replicated by any other company or improved upon by competitors with deeper pockets and more resources.

The way to truly differentiate yourself or your company is to offer remarkable service, which is focused on securing customers’ loyalty and trust, so they will tell other people about it.

Remarkable service is simply about forming a long-term, personal relationship with your customers, making them happy enough to refer their friends to you — who may in turn become repeat customers themselves.

Here are some tips on delivering remarkable customer service to stay ahead of the competition:

Always deliver what you promise

The fastest way to lose a customer’s trust is failing to live up to your promises. Building false expectations to close a deal and not delivering after only goes to show how much you value them or their business.

Dishonesty, missing deadlines, not turning up on time and skipping appointments frustrate clients to no end. Your reliability and credibility will come into question, and your customers will soon head for your competitors.

If under-promising and over-delivering is not yet within your capability, try giving the best you can offer (a reasonable promise) and deliver on that.

Always go the extra mile

Tough competition in the market puts tremendous pressure on sales and service professionals to give their best. But the most outstanding sales and service people usually rise above that and provide remarkable service out of genuine passion for their work as well as their commitment in satisfying and delighting their clients.

For example, when a customer asks if you could recommend a nice dinner venue, offer a list of the best restaurants you can think of, along with the telephone numbers and addresses.

Better yet, find out what type of cuisine your client prefers, make relevant recommendations and offer to book the venue for them once they have made their decision.

Sometimes, people may not blatantly express their appreciation or gratitude for what you have done, but they will notice and remember that extra effort you have put in and tell others about it.

Always pick up the phone

In business, any missed call will almost always translate to a lost opportunity. Every single person in the office up to the managing director should be personally responsible for answering phone calls, not just the receptionists.

It may seem like a simple thing to do, but you would be surprised how often a call gets unanswered and, as a result, your customers and clients seek out other alternatives.

The opportunity cost can be as low as not attending to a customer efficiently enough or as significant as losing a potentially high-value client or gaining a reputation for poor service.

Remarkable service is about putting in place all kinds of support systems to ensure all calls are picked up and attended to, regardless of who the caller is and the significance of the call.

In this way, the company gains the faith of its clients and creates the perception that its people are highly effective and responsive.

Always train your people

The best laid plans are useless if the people executing them are not trained to roll them out. Educate them about the importance of putting customer service first, and give examples of how they can internalise great customer service so that it becomes an integral part of their work.

Illustrate what is good service and how your staff can exceed that to achieve remarkable service. Your people need to care about your customers as much as you do.

Be candid about what contributes to “bad service” so that people are more aware of the things they say, their reactions or responses and even their body language. All these may unknowingly lead to misinterpretations by clients and customers.

Remarkable service can be easily achieved if employees are empowered to make small customer-pleasing decisions, especially for service recovery should anything go wrong.

When your people are not compelled to check with various layers of management to offer a temporary solution for a simple problem, it also means your clients and customers can be instantly gratified.

Always be loyal to your customers

One of the most important customer service strategies to earn your customers’ loyalty is by being an equally loyal business partner.

If you expect to achieve high customer loyalty, what are you doing to make sure it is reciprocal? What can you offer over and above your competitors to convince your customers that they should stick with you?

Like any other relationships, the more effort you spend on looking after your customers, the better you will be at relating to them — and meeting their needs.

Building a long-term personal relationship with your customers requires consistent and significant investment of time, resources and analysis. But you are almost guaranteed a customer for life because you make them feel important.

A final bit of advice about customer service: “If you aren’t taking care of your customers, your competition will.