Let’s translate that into different words: A business may lose one out of every six customers by providing regular, average customer service. Is that business yours?

If your business is an online one, then you have to pay special care to customer satisfaction and communication. We love our technology, but the competition is thick. Provide average service amongst a sea of competitors hungry for your clients, and you risk losing valuable clients to merchants who go the extra mile. drives home some well-known facts about client loyalty:

  • A satisfied customer will tell one or two people of the experience. An unhappy one will tell six to ten people, which can be devastating to a new or small business.
  • 70% of clients will do business with you again when the complaint they had was resolved in their favor.
  • That number jumps to 95% when complaints are resolved on the spot. Obviously, communication counts. It can make or break your business, and it can keep clients or send them elsewhere. Being available to solve problems and resolve issues matters. If you aren’t accessible to your clients by whatever means they prefer, they may go elsewhere for their needs.

Here are a few figures that will help provide strong customer service with plenty of options for clients to communicate with you. While these figures relate to call centers, they give a good portrait of what means people use to communicate with merchants and what method of communication they prefer.

Telephone communication stays tops for keeping customers happy. 73% of contact center interactions are via the telephone, with only 24% of interactions carried out through email. Chat and instant messaging brings up the rear, at 4% — though that number will most likely steadily grow over time.

Cover all your bases. Have a phone number that clients can call, whether this is your home phone number or a dedicated line for business use. Some workers prefer a cell phone. Voice-over-internet-protocols are another option that may also save money.

Have a professional email address, and check your in-box frequently, at least once a day. Web-based email servers like Gmail offer plenty of potential for workers who travel or like to work from a laptop in the park.

Sign up with the most common instant messaging services, like MSN, Yahoo!, and AOL, then use a multi-messaging services and software like Trillian, Pidgin or Meebo to keep it all together.

A couple of last considerations for communication are to use a blog to stay in touch with customers and potential clients, a fax machine for sending and receiving documents, and an automated form for your website where people can request more information, contact you with comments and suggestions, or place an order.

Stay away from automated systems or call center services that give customers the runaround. Exceptional customer service avoids automated systems, because clients that are answered by a machine tend to do less business with that company or merchant.

And if you think about it, exceptional customer service may be the only thing that sets you apart from your competitors. Unless you’ve stumbled upon a unique product or service that no one else has (and if you have, it won’t be long before someone else catches on to follow your lead and create competition), you’re battling to win customers with other businesses that offer similar or identical products and services.

Great communication and exceptional customer service can give you the edge, and let you maintain customer loyalty and satisfaction for business success.

Carrie Wilkerson is the voice of experience. From corporate life to teaching high school to direct sales, she has ‘been there and done that’ professionally and personally. An ‘overnight mom’ to 2 toddlers through adoption, her priorities instantly changed and so did her workplace. She’s now built several businesses and coached others to do the same while overcoming extreme debt, losing 110lbs and having 2 more children, for a total of 4 children, ages infant through 12! As ‘The Barefoot Executive’, Carrie and her network of experts have quickly become the definite resource for helping women achieve extra income and career goals while working from home.