The difference between customer service and customer satisfaction is that one is a cause, while the other is the effect or result of that cause. Providing excellent customer service is a cause whose result is customer satisfaction. There are several factors that make up excellent customer service that will in turn lead to customer satisfaction. The most critical are, warmly acknowledge the customer, build trust and rapport, identify needs, and satisfactorily resolve issues and concerns, expressing gratitude for the opportunity to serve the customer.

Warmly Acknowledging Customers


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Whether on the phone or in person, the initial contact that the customer has with your business is vital in shaping their opinion about you. Begin with a warm smile and a greeting that makes her feel like she is a welcome guest rather an interruption of your day. Your greeting can be as simple as "Hello, Welcome to (your business name)." or "Hello, thank you for calling (your business name)."

Building Rapport and Trust With The Customer


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Your warm greeting initiated a positive connection with the customer. You now want to build on that to ensure a mutually enjoyable experience. If you are serving the customer in person, you want to notice something about them that hey would likely be interested in talking about. For example, "I see you're wearing a "Lakers" hat, are you a fan?" If you are serving a customer over the phone, you might ask "Where are you calling from today?...So how is the weather where you are?" Asking these questions shows an interest in these customers as individuals rather than just another person in a long line of people you have to deal with. The key is to be sincere. Don't pay a compliment unless you are sincere about it.

Identifying The Needs Of The Customer


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Sometimes the customer knows exactly what they need and sometimes he doesn't. Regardless, it is a part of providing great customer service to identify his needs so that you can provide them the best possible service. You might start by asking "What brings you in today?", or "What is your reason for calling today?" or "How can I be of service today?" If they are able to communicate exactly what they need, great, help them to get what they need. If they are unsure, than continue to ask relevant questions that will assist them in clarifying and identifying their needs.

Provide Relevant Solutions


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With the needs of the customer identified, you are now in a position to offer the best solutions for them. In some cases it may be straight forward, such as wanting to return an item. In other cases there may be a range of choices such as wanting to purchase a new laptop computer. Regardless, providing excellent customer service means offering the best most relevant solutions that meet or exceed the needs of the customer.

Expressing Genuine Gratitude


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You want to complete your interaction on a positive note. Regardless of whether they purchased anything or not. Whether they bought the item you wanted them to buy, or as much as you wanted them to buy, express your gratitude. Express your gratitude for the opportunity to serve the customer. More than ever customers often have several choices of where they can make their purchases. While price is often a consideration, great service will often trump a business with lower prices and poor customer service. A simple warm genuine smile and saying "Thank you (customer name) for the opportunity to serve you today. I look forward to seeing you again soon." goes a long way toward instilling good feelings in the customer.

Customer Satisfaction


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Customer satisfaction is the result of the customer having a great customer service experience. The customer feels like the person serving him actually cared about him and his needs. He felt like he was being listened to and acknowledged appropriately. He was provided with the service and relevant options that resolved the needs that brought him to your business in the first place. Ultimately he felt like you were genuinely grateful for the opportunity to serve him. With business becoming ever more competitive, often the deciding factor between success and failure is the quality of the customer service provided. Satisfied customers are more likely to be loyal customers, returning more often, and spending more during each visit.