customer service

3 Principles That Will Win Customers for Life

“70% of buying decisions are based on how a customer feels they were treated.”


It may sound obvious but if you treat a customer well, you will have a customer for life. So why do so many businesses fail at basic customer service? Sure, there are some truly terrible businesses out there that really don’t care about their customers. But I choose to believe that the majority of businesses that failed, did so unintentionally. 


It’s easy as business owners to get wrapped up in the importance of your product or service. Don’t get me wrong, your product is extremely important. However, it is still not as important as how you take care of your customers. In fact, a recent study shows that 70% of buying decisions are based on how a customer feels they were treated. That is a staggering number and one that must not be ignored.




Let’s be clear, I’m not referring to customer service “do’s & don’t’s”. I’m assuming that you already know being polite and courteous is basic customer service etiquette. What I’m talking about are the principles that very few businesses seem to follow.


By following the principles I outlined below, it will lead to awesome customer experiences that result in growth.


An example of what happens when you follow these principles:

When we started Talkroute, our first 100 customers received a hand written “thank you” note directly from myself. I took the time to personalize each card and directly engage the customer. I did this because I truly appreciate the support we received and wanted our customers to know it. This simple gesture of appreciation left our customers knowing that they matter. In return, the cards were shared by customers on social media and ultimately sent more business our way.


Does this mean that you need to start sending all of your customers “thank you” letters? Not necessarily. There are countless other ways that you can achieve the same result within your given market. The point is that by following these principles, these types of gestures will come naturally and the results will be organic, not forced.


3 Fundamentals of Great Customer Service that Result in Growth


1) Be Compassionate:

This may sound like a no-brainer but it is probably the single most neglected rule of good customer service. In order to have real compassion for your customers, you have to truly care. There is no faking it. There is nothing worse than a service rep that is clearly faking compassion as they stare at the clock waiting to go home.


We have all been in a situation where a product or service that we rely on suddenly stops working. Example: Our customers rely on us to provide call routing for their businesses. So if something is not functioning properly, it can be a very frustrating experience.


out the window


Having compassion for your customers unique needs is the first stage of good customer service. You need to put yourself in their shoes and communicate your concern for their situation. If you do this properly, you will be amazed at the results.


2) Be Truly Helpful:

It’s not quite as simple as you may think. This requires you to actually listen to your customers and make recommendations based on the information they are giving you. That means no more scripts or canned responses.


What!?! Are you saying that I can’t outsource my customer service calls to the Philippians and provide a script of answers to potential questions and expect happy customers?


That is exactly what I am saying (nothing against the Philippians). By providing automated responses to unique issues, you are eliminating the ability to be truly helpful to your customers. Here are two examples to explain my point:

Scenario #1:


Do you have a tutorial that shows how you forward calls to a cell phone from a menu option? I need to know how to do this.


Thank you for your email. I have provided the requested documentation below:

Here is a video tutorial on adding Menu Options:

Menu Option Video Tutorial

Here is documentation on adding Menu Options:

Menu Option Tutorial

Please let me know if you have any additional questions.



The above is an example of your customer getting what they asked for and nothing more. There is nothing wrong with this and there are times when it can be the appropriate response. But I wouldn’t classify this type of customer service as being truly helpful.

Scenario #2:


Do you have a tutorial that shows how you forward calls to a cell phone from a menu option? I need to know how to do this.


Sure! I have provided the documentation on how to forward calls to your cellular phone from a menu option. However, I would be happy to show you how to do this. Would you like to schedule a time for me to show how to add menu options? If you have time, I would love to learn more about your business and provide some recommendations on how our service can assist your further. Of course, no pressure!

Here is a video tutorial on adding Menu Options:

Menu Option Video Tutorial

Here is documentation on adding Menu Options:

Menu Option Tutorial

I look forward to assisting you further.



I think we can agree that this response is truly helpful and your customer now knows they are important. Once the interaction is over, the customer may not recall exactly what you said but they will remember feeling significant. By responding this way, you are not only assisting the customer with their immediate need but opening a dialogue that will lead to you being truly helpful. By spending the extra time learning about your customer and showing that you care, you will greatly decrease the chance of them leaving you for a competing service. There is no better retention technique then letting your customers know that you care.


Remember to go the extra mile by not only solving the immediate problem but taking it a step further. This interaction is one of the best investments of time you can make.


3) Be Genuine:

It might sound crazy but doing nice things for your customers only leads to them doing nice things for you. Whether you are sending customers a handwritten note or a $5.00 Starbucks gift card, small acts of kindness can bring amazing results.




This is where you will see the biggest return on your investment of providing truly good customer service. However, if you are not careful, these types of gestures can appear canned and soulless. You can’t fake being genuine.


Let’s be clear. A large number of your customers simply want to buy your product or service, get support when they need it and never interact further. There is nothing wrong with this. There are many times when I’m shopping at a store and I’m chased out by the staff because I’m asked 15 times if I need any help. This is an example of going through the motions and customers hate it.


However, I was in a store last week and I approached a sales person with a technical question. The rep asked me a few additional questions about my problem and gave me some awesome recommendations. He showed me a product based on my needs and not the price. He then even slipped me a 10% off coupon, so that I could save some money. There was no pressure and I felt he actually cared about my problem and I felt great leaving the store with my new purchase.


By being Compassionate and Truly Helpful, as we outlined above, you will see your customers as unique individuals and treat them appropriately. There is a fine line between being genuinely helpful and annoying.


This principle also extends to gestures. Tell me which you think is more powerful (real examples):


a) Send every new customer a hand written “thank you” note.

b) After learning more about your customer, you discover they have two young children that play soccer. You send a card with a soccer player on it and a gift card for a local ice cream shop.


As I explained earlier, we sent out 100 handwritten “thank you” notes and we received a good response. However, I couldn’t help but think that we could take it a step further and make our gesture of gratitude less generic. I’m sure it is no surprise that b) not only received an amazing response but a customer that is singing our praises on social media and referring more business our way. The point is that truly genuine gestures will always perform better.



Is it Worth it?

I wish every company would simply provide good service because it is the right thing to do. However, truly great customer service isn’t required to grow a successful business. 


To be perfectly honest you can have total crap service and still be successful.


Let’s be honest. There is a good chance that you are doing business with a company that has terrible customer service. Why?


a) The product is the best option for your specific needs and budget. However, once someone comes a long with a better product, better support, and a better price, I would venture to say you would leave fairly quickly.

b) The product or service is the only option. Anyone remember the horrid Comcast customer experiences that were made public this year? Guess what? I’m a customer! I have no choice but to give Comcast my business and therefore, I must put up with their terrible customer service. Oh, and they were named 2014 Worst Company In America


While great customer service isn’t needed to be successful, it is absolutely necessary if you want customers for life. You will eventually have competitors. These competitors may even be better than you and offer lower pricing. The only thing that is going to keep your customer from leaving you is the loyalty you create.


So is great customer service worth it? Absolutely! Not only are you retaining existing customers but you are earning new ones. Remember, it costs 5x times as much to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Not to mention, it’s simply the right thing to do.




Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.

Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.

Stephanie3 Principles That Will Win Customers for Life