Of the many experiences we all have each day involving customer service, only a few may be memorably pleasant. Some may be okay. Some may even be abrasive. Shouldn't they all be great? 

Don't you think customers would be delighted in being treated one way, to have uniformly excellent service in each encounter? Wouldn't it be great to always receive "Business Friendly" customer service? Well, why isn't it that way? 

Bottom Line: The biggest mistake customer service professionals make is not treating customer's friendly enough. Somehow the cold, aloof, reserved, overly formal method of handling people has come to be considered "businesslike." But that's not true. It comes across like frostbite. To the customer it can sound curt, bored, and uncaring. It's costing companies billions of dollars in lost opportunities! 

"Business Friendly," simply put, is the middle ground between being too cold, impersonal, or uncaring, and the other extreme of being too familiar too fast. 

Want to deliver GREAT Business Friendly Customer Service? It involves the following: 

1. Treat every customer as unique; don't become desensitized. During a typical day you probably handle repetitive questions; the same thing over and over. Toward the end of the day the "lots of calls fatigue" syndrome sets in and your energy level begins to sag. This is when you need to avoid becoming desensitized, to avoid sounding bored and uncaring and unpleasant to customers. Every customer deserves the same uniform excellence, no matter what time of the day they call.

2. Solve the problem; don't argue! When a customer is wrong, and sometimes they are, it's not a good idea to tell them that they are wrong. Don't argue. Good "Business Friendly" customer service focuses on solving the problem, not identifying and placing the blame!

3. Show empathy; don't ignore what they say! Empathy is defined as the ability to share in another's emotions, thoughts, or feelings. When someone describes a problem or a situation, don't ignore it! Say something that shows you heard, understand, and share in the matter. Be empathetic. Reach out to involve yourself in the caller's experience. This indicates that you're being "Business Friendly."

4. Smile; don't be cold! A smile in your voice makes all the difference in the world. Yes, you can hear it! Without the smile in your voice, the listener's perception is that you aren't very friendly. It's like having a friendly expression on your face when you meet someone. Your smile is your friendly facial expression on the telephone. 

Simple as it sounds, these four steps will get you started on delivering great Business Friendly customer service. 

As a customer service professional, make it your goal to reach out and treat every customer with the same warm and caring manner. Your goal is uniform excellence. Make every contact memorably pleasant. To do that, make Telephone Doctor "Business Friendly" your goal. 

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Nancy Friedman, president of Telephone Doctor, is a keynote speaker at association, franchise and corporate meetings. She is the author of eight books on customer service and sales, has appeared on Fox News, CNN, Oprah, and dozens of other radio and TV shows. You can talk with Nancy at 314-291-1012, email her at [email protected] or visit www.nancyfriedman.com

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