Obviously, we struggled a little bit with the letter X. There aren’t a lot of topics that lend themselves well to this particular letter, so unless we wanted to discuss the ins and outs of running a xylophone business, we had to expand beyond our normal vocabulary. Enter xenodochial, a long word that essentially means being nice to strangers – a quality that businesses must exhibit if they ever hope to attract new customers! But for simplicity’s sake, you can also think of X as standing for (e)Xcellent customer service.

Truly the most confusing letter.

There are a lot of theories on how to best serve your customers, but in reality there is no one answer on how to provide good customer service. Instead, there are multiple factors that have to built into how a business interacts with its customers.

First, though, it us up to the business owner to determine what their customers expect from them in terms of interaction. After all, what works in a restaurant may not necessarily work for a tire shop. Part of finding your niche is learning what your customers expect, and then working to meet those expectations. After you figure that out, you can begin training your employees on how best to interact with the customers. Do they want to be greeted at the door? Updated on new products? Treated like close friends? Part of running a business is organically zeroing in on answers to those types of questions. While a business book can give a laundry list of recommendations, customer service expectations and policies should be built on your experience with your customers.

Of course, good customer service goes beyond your interactions with your customers. You also need to make sure your employees are happy and treated well by the management – yes, they should always work in the interest of the company and people that pay them, but you can always tell when someone hates working somewhere. A disheartened, unmotivated employee may not treat customers poorly, but they certainly won’t work to make sure they have an excellent experience.

Finally, there are three parts of customer service that advisors and analysts constantly harp about – knowledge, body language, and anticipating needs. Though these three things border on cliché, they can be useful as long as they aren’t the only three parts of customer service focused on. Everyone who works for the business should be knowledgable about what the business sells, should be able to make eye contact and smile, and should be able to anticipate common customer needs so that customers feel that the business went “above and beyond” (if you will pardon another cliché) while helping them.

Xenodochial may be a complicated word, but customer service doesn’t have to be. Honestly, a lot of what creates a good customer experience is common sense. Treat your customers well and know what you are talking about. When you hire people to work for you, make sure they know and do the same. Small businesses have an advantage over giant corporations because they can still inject a bit of that personal touch into how they interact with their customers. And, as long as your employees feel as though they are an important part of your business’s success, they will be willing to work hard to maintain that level of customer service you worked so hard to build.