We live in the era of fast and furious transactions, where hype is king and customer service is often lacking.  The average retail customer faces frustrations at every turn — no enticing discounts to be had, service coming at a crawling pace (if at all), missing items that were promised to be held in layaway… The list goes on.

For club members, the issue is different. The golf course beverage cart may not stock the same products consistently. Costly dues may keep otherwise willing patrons out of the club, especially among the younger generation. Would-be golfers may not have access to personal, hands-on training from anyone, let alone seasoned pro shop staffers.

Whether you’re a retailer or a club manager, you know that customers drive your operation like no other resource can. Consider these five tips for delighting your customers, directly and indirectly:

1. Show your customers that you care about them.

Your products or services are there to solve your customers’ problems, no matter how small. Ready to Provide Customer Service There will always be a level of emotion involved in facing and solving problems, and you should be aware of that.  Be careful though — trying too hard to make an emotional pitch will be counterproductive (customers are savvy and can easily feel manipulated by these tactics).  Instead, you should be actively looking out for their needs, listening to reasonable ideas for improvement, and catering to their desires.  When customers feel like you are genuinely trying to help them, they may become emotionally engaged in the process. Such customers are three times more likely to recommend a product or service and repurchase another themselves.

2. Treat your employees better.

Even though we’re talking about ways to give great customer service, your employees are the ones who provide it.  It’s no secret (or wonder) that a happy employee is a productive employee. What productivity means depends on the business. No matter what it is, treat your employees respectfully and fairly. At the same time, take some time to tackle their issues and needs. Create an encouraging environment for your employees to feel appreciated and trusted. Their appreciation and trust will in turn improve the quality of customer service they provide, and their customers will most likely return the favor when they revisit your business.

3. More purpose, less rules.

Though rules do have their place in their shaping of conduct, they seldom motivate people to do a great job. Instead (as an extension of #2 above), instill in your employees a purpose for their work. By giving them clear expectations and trusting them to do their jobs, you tell them that you value them all, and that sense of value will empower them. In the end, they’re trying to satisfy customer needs, and it makes the job for them more fulfilling. In turn, customers will be happier when knowledgeable, cordial people help them solve their problems.

4. Over-deliver on a promise…

…But never under-promise.  An under-promise suggests to the customer that you’re willing to commit to them only minimally, and hence sell yourself short. The real key is to over-deliver on either a large set of promises or a single serious promise, and impress your customers in the process. In order for this to work well for you — and your customers — you have to believe in your product or service and convey your belief in your interactions. When you believe in your product or service, you know exactly what promise to make in selling your solution. And that promise should be balanced between customer impressionability and manageability. A big promise is everything to everyone.

5. Reward customers for their dedication to your business.

If your customers are as excited about your business as you are, they should be rewarded. Maybe they love your product, service or business model enough to tell their friends.  Maybe they hope to share in your success. A good reward system should strike a balance between conveying real value to your customer and retaining profits for the business. This is more than just customer service.  It’s a way of “paying it forward” that not only benefits your customer but can help you grow your business too, as word of mouth advertising by highly satisfied customers is one of the best forms of marketing available.

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Photo credit: mattbuchanan / Foter / CC BY