make their day.

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Providing excellent customer service is a really great way to put your whole heart into your creative business.  Go ahead, 

make their day.

I used to work at Starbucks, and I loved all the cheesy slogans and phrases that would come out on the cups, coffee sleeves and decor.  One of my favorites was a cup that said, "We don't just want to make your drink.  We want to make your day."  I loved that!  And it was so true!  I loved my job at Starbucks and I really did enjoy the interaction with customers and trying to make their day a little brighter.  I worked the early morning shifts, so I saw people before they'd had their coffee.  There was one particularly grumpy man who came each morning.  He was clearly not a morning person, but it was hard to imagine him a daytime or night person either.  I made it my mission to get him to smile.  I am a morning person, and can be genuinely friendly without being annoyingly perky, so I would greet him warmly each morning.  I got to know his favorite coffee (always dark roast, but when we brewed Sumatra, that was his favorite).  Over time, I could strike up conversations with him, and he started to smile some mornings.  

When you see customers daily, you can ease into connection with them.  If your business is online, you can build up connection through blog posts and social media (more on that tomorrow).  

But sometimes you'll get someone who has never heard of you or seen anything about you before.  They just came across your product or service and decided to buy.  How are you going to leave an impression on them?

Here are a few ideas:

Follow up email.  Even if it's an automatically generated email when they make a purchase, let them know you appreciate their business and you're happy to work with them.  Let your personality come through in your writing.  Invite them to follow you on social media or read your blog.

If you're sending something in the mail, take careful thought to the way you package the items.  Include unique touches that make it feel like a gift when they receive it.  Add little extras or just wrap it nicely.  Include a handwritten thank you note.  Taking the time to do these small gestures means a lot.

Respond to questions and comments.  When someone takes the time to reach out to you with a question or comment, show them they matter by responding to them.  It goes a long way in showing that you care and makes them want to stick around.  If you grow too big to respond, you've probably grown big enough to hire someone to help with correspondence.  It makes a difference!

Handle dissatisfied customers with care.  It's never fun to know that someone is not happy with something you've worked hard on and put your heart into, but it's bound to happen at some point.  Be careful how you handle these situations.  Don't let anyone take advantage of you, but do what you can to remedy the problem with grace and patience.  There may be times that you find you just can't fix a problem to their satisfaction, and that's ok.  But always treat the customer with kindness and respect, no matter how little of either they have shown you.

Ask for feedback.  A great opportunity to learn what your customers love about your product or service, and to find out what they might like to see added or improved is to ask!  You can give an incentive for a review after a purchase or for completing a survey through email or on your website.  Listen to their needs and wants.  Consider their ideas when coming up with your next product creation, and thank them for their feedback.

"Surprise and delight" were words we heard often in team meetings at Starbucks.  Providing excellent customer service goes a long way in establishing trust and loyalty.  It's what can set you apart from others providing similar products or services.  Focus on the customer experience.  Don't just make a sale.  Make their day.

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Inspiration and resources to encourage you in creativity, faith, dreaming big and taking action.