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Business is no longer a dog-eat-dog proposition. Instead we are seeing how being kind, even in our business dealings, can make you “Top Dog.” OK, animal metaphors aside, why is being kind so good for business? It’s a known fact that we like to do business with people we know, like and trust. Kindness is a huge piece of that puzzle.

When you look at your business, who is responsible for being kind? Customer Service? Of course! The receptionist or office admin? Sure. Do you manufacture widgets, sell a product or a service; are you brick and mortar or an online presence; employ two or 2,000…kindness is everyone’s job.

When you are the owner, your example will lead your employees in the right direction. Kindness does not mean being best friends with each and every employee. It means a “hello”, a smile and if you can, remembering their name. Be sure your employees know how to be kind to your clients. Often, being kind is perceived as wasting time. There are parameters and training will help them know what is expected and reasonable.

Years ago, Penny worked in the accounts receivable department of a small manufacturing company. They had plenty of receivables but very little information on the companies. Name, address and phone number and sometimes the name of their accounts payable. As Penny started contacting each company, she wrote notes. Basic information at first: who was she speaking to, were they stressed or pleasant. As time passed, she knew their spouses and children’s names, vacation spots, and celebrations.

Imagine how you would feel if you received a call from “collections” and the first question is: how’s your son’s baseball season going? Or, did you pass that big test in your evening class? Getting to know your clients will help both of you build trust.

This habit served Penny well when she stepped into outside sells. Building rapport and being interested in her clients brought countless referrals and opened doors. What would happen to your sells if you just asked a few more questions about the person before offering your product? Kindness can be translated into: friendly, honest, reliable, solutions and service.

Be Friendly

Being friendly builds rapport. You build rapport when you develop mutual trust, friendship and affinity with someone. Building rapport can be beneficial to your business when done with sincerity You establish good interpersonal relationships and this can open many doors for you. Being friendly goes beyond the obligatory smile and “how are you?” This may take a little time, but will pay off in having a loyal customer. Be friendly to your employees. Ask them questions, remember their names. It’s been said that an appreciated person will do more than expected. As the CEO or business owner, you lead by example.

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Be Honest

You want to be that person your clients know they can trust. People would rather hear “I don’t know, let me find out for you”, than something made up. Offer what you can deliver, when you can deliver it. Never paint a “rosy” picture just to get the business. Charge a fair price. A client will find out soon enough if you over charged them. Advise your employees when a sale is coming, so they can pass that information along to the customers. Ensure that customer may wait until the sale to buy and they will spread the word about your good customer service.

Be Reliable

You can become your client’s best vendor just by following through. Always return emails and voice mails. Communicating with your client should be the priority. When a promised ship/delivery date cannot be fulfilled, reach out to the client to give them an update. Being proactive can turn around a disappointed client. Give your client ample notice of sales or office closures for holidays. Once a client knows they can count on you, they will return. Under promise and over deliver generates referrals.

Be a Problem Solver

Customer confidence is built every time you solve their problem. Make sure these solutions are in your customer’s best interest. An honest answer, even if it sends your customer elsewhere, can save a business relationship. Give your customers options. Often our client’s think they know what they want, but are unaware of what else may be available. When your client comes to you with an idea and is not sure what they need to fulfill it, show them how your company will go the extra mile to help them.

Be of service

Service shows you care. Go a step beyond what the client expects. Providing service is about the customer, it is not about you. When a customer has an issue and needs you to find a solution, do not let them down. Do your best to find a workable solution This may mean bringing someone else from your company to assist. Most clients will tell others about receiving great customer service. Make sure they are talking about you. A loyal customer feels valued.

The owner of Dana Inspires, Dana Morgan-Barnes is a speaker, trainer, author, coach and Snow Magazine contributor.