We’ve all had a bad customer service experience or two in our lives, but how often do we actually “complain” to someone who can turn a bad situation into a good one? According to a recent statistic, as many as 96% of us will say something about a negative experience to 15 friends, without speaking to anyone within the organization we are upset with. Here’s a thought: perhaps being proactive with a tailored approach to customer service from the start of the relationship can help to prevent a negative situation from the get-go. After all, it’s about the customer!

Here are three suggestions for providing excellent customer service.

  1. To earn customers’ trust, make them feel seen and heard.

Successfully competing in the market involves more than offering the best prices. Nowadays, potential customers are drawn in and compelled to stay when you provide top-notch customer service. At the very least, they expect to be treated with kindness and respect. With a global average of 59% of consumers having higher expectations of customer service, continuing to use outdated or ineffective strategies may cause you to fall behind your competitors. To attract and retain customers, it is critical to make each individual feel special by providing them with personalized customer service.

Another important factor in attracting and retaining customers is to meet their needs. Being aware of your target market’s customer service preferences can also benefit your business, since approximately 54% of consumers say they base their purchasing decisions on the quality of a company’s customer service. Furthermore, more than 19% say that the quality of service is one of the most important factors influencing their final purchasing decision.

  1. Proactive customer service will set you apart from the competition.

It is pretty clear that any type of service—for example, being greeted by name, being recognized from previous interactions, and receiving contextualized support—is appreciated and makes a customer feel valued. In addition, anticipating your customers’ support needs can give your company a competitive edge.

  1. Communicate and interact with your customers to build stronger relationships.

At the end of the day, remember that cultivating relationships with your customer base does not end with the sale. That is only the beginning. To keep connected, you must provide excellent, consistent, and meaningful customer care. The key is to listen to your customers and act on their feedback to demonstrate that addressing their concerns is a top priority. There are many ways to stay connected including seasonal cards, birthday cards, newsletters and phone call check-ins. Continued interaction sends a strong message that you care.

It’s better for dissatisfied customers to talk to you than about you.

Following these simple steps will help you in maintaining open lines of communication with your customers. That way, if they have a negative experience, they will be far more likely to tell you directly rather than complaining to 15 (or 1,500!) of their friends. And, with a higher level of trust between you and your customers, you have a much better chance of making things right and reinforcing their trust in you.