We live in a world now in which everything is either automated, computerized or both. That’s great, as these things can help us do business more efficiently and efficiently. If I compare what it was like being an entrepreneur many years ago to how things are today, I’d have to say that there is no comparison. Technology has largely taken over.

On the other hand, there are some things you don’t want to completely trust to technology, like customer service. Over the past several years we’ve seen the rise of customer relationship manager (CRM) applications, which are very helpful for maintaining relationships. But you still want to maintain strong personal interactions with your customers.

So how can we do that? Here are three suggestions.

Send a handwritten thank you note.

Two words will immediately jump out at you from that statement: “handwritten” and “note.” How long has it been since someone sent you a note that was written by a human with an ink pen in cursive script? Been a while, right? Email has created a ton of efficiency for us and it works well in most situations. But it’s become commonplace. Everyone uses it, as we’re expected to.

But if you send a handwritten note to a customer following a sale or a pitch meeting, it says something more than simply “thanks.” It says you went the extra mile and took the time to add a personal touch when you could have just dashed off an email, which is what most people would do. In doing this, it strengthens the bond between you and your valued customer.

Create exceptional customer experiences.

Those of us who have been in the business world for any length of time have heard or read about some of the cool things companies have done to show their customers they care. Years ago, everyone was talking about the Seattle-based department store chain Nordstrom, which earned a reputation for practicing customer service in ways no one else was doing at the time. The company’s employees were essentially instructed to provide customer satisfaction regardless of the cost or situation. By doing this they build an extremely loyal customer base, or as some marketers call it, a “tribe.”

So how can you create exceptional customer experiences? Well it starts by knowing — really
knowing — your customers. Talk to them and learn their likes and dislikes. Understand them. Know what’s important to them. When you read positive online reviews for doctors, as an example, what you’ll see over and over are comments about why they recommend that provider. “He spent lots of time with me.” “She answered my questions.” “They explained things to me in a way I could understand.” Strive to learn what’s meaningful to your customers. Then, simply provide it.

Exceed expectations.

How many times have you requested something from a company and it took longer than expected? Or how many times have you called a customer support like and encountered someone who just didn’t have the personality for that line of work? There’s a lot of competition out there, and if you don’t exceed your customers’ expectations someone else will. This is why you need to place your customers first and always strive to not only satisfy them but turn them into longtime fans. When you exceed customers’ expectations, it not only satisfies them but often motivates them to follow up — by telling others about you, posting rave reviews online and more.

Remember — without our customers we have no companies. Treat them well and you will be positioning your company for growth.