As an entrepreneur, you have many things that need to be addressed on a daily basis, from maintaining a positive balance sheet and marketing to motivating employees and taking care of your customers. These items are all part and parcel of running a company, and sitting there at the top of the to-do list is customer service.

Without customers, your company doesn’t have a reason to exist. Because of this many business leaders stress the importance of making customer service job one.

Anyone who is serious about making considerable headway in business needs to understand why customer service is so important,” writes R. L. Adams, founder of WanderlustWorker.com.

“It’s not just for all the obvious fiscal reasons. It goes far beyond that. It delves into the very existence of who we are and why we do the things that we do. The way we treat our customers is indicative of the way we look at things in life. Are we short-sighted, merely searching for the next pay day, or does our vision give us a deeper understanding of the long-term implications of our actions?”

What entrepreneurs need to realize, say many of those who have launched companies, is that customers today have lots of choices. It’s not like in the past when customers were more likely to develop and maintain loyalty to a specific vendor. One slip-up can cost you bad word-of-mouth and lost revenue. On the other hand, positive buzz can translate into higher sales. This is why it’s so crucial to always let your customers know that you’re working with their needs in mind.

“Customer service is your most important priority,” says veteran Toronto entrepreneur John Fielding. “Our primary job as a company is to serve our existing customers, attract new ones, keep them, and expand our customer base. To accomplish this, it’s imperative that we provide them with a high level of service.”

John Fielding defines this as helping them experience new efficiencies, save time, grow their businesses, and compete more effectively. 

“If we do this well, we’ll have satisfied customers who not only return again and again but also refer us to other potential customers.”

So how do you do this successfully? 

It’s important to get to know your customers and everything you can about them. 

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Vivek Patel, who works at San Diego content marketing company E2M, writes that the first step towards success is knowing your customers.

If you have no idea about their wants, wishes and buying behaviors, it will be impossible to entice them. Successful entrepreneurs know their customer’s names, age, income, hobbies, tastes, dislikes, and more. If you know your customer to this depth, then you can expect to win new customers and build a successful business.”

Taking this a step further, it’s also good to show your customers you appreciate them by how you treat them. Many sales professionals practice this on a daily basis by establishing rapport with their customers, asking questions and genuinely listening to their responses and providing them with solutions that fully address their needs. By doing this, you’re developing a personal connection with each customer and letting them know that you want to help them achieve their objectives as much as they do.

It also helps to be nice.

“One of the best ways to gain and retain customers is to always be friendly to them,” writes Nathan Resnick, a serial entrepreneur and the CEO of Sourcify. He adds that, “Being friendly doesn’t mean being a pushover – you have to be firm and assertive as a business owner – but a genuine smile when meeting someone goes a long way.

“Your personality when working with customers is what forms lasting relationships, and these relationships are what keep your business afloat even when times are tough. Just as you should go the extra mile when addressing customer concerns, really go out of your way to be kind.”

Create slide-shares, e-books, e-guides, white papers your customer might need from you,” writes Matt Wilson, co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. “Distribute free content, as much as possible. Show your customers you care. Attract potential customers by acting as a free knowledge resource. Educate the customer what the product or service is about. Tell them that you genuinely care for their well-being.”