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Customer service can be one of your most important keys to ongoing success. That’s because happy consumers can turn into repeat customers, and satisfied customers are likely to talk about their positive experiences to others.

Think about it for a minute: Has a long wait or a lack of service or support made you happy? Your customers feel the same way.

Whether you’re a business owner or employee, you should make every reasonable effort to satisfy your customers. Are you selling products people want? Can you answer their questions before and after a transaction? Are you there when they need you if things don’t go right?

In our world where competition for customers is fierce, support can be a difference maker. Consumers expect to be able to contact a customer service representative and resolve issues quickly and in a variety of ways. That includes everything from an in-person interaction, to a phone call, to an email, to social media, or even live chat. If you set up expectations on any of these channels, be prepared to make them work for your customers. The goal should be to take ownership of an issue – with a product or your business - and try to get it resolved quickly and with minimal hassle.

How can you do that? If possible, try to be there for customers during the entire process, whether that is answering questions about a product while a customer is shopping, providing information about shipping and delivery, or resolving any issues once the product has been purchased. The more involved and helpful you can be, the better the customer experience will be. And the better that experience is, the more likely you’ll likely have repeat customers or online reviews that encourage new customers to try your business and products.

Good ways to satisfy consumers include making it easy to find contact information about your business and having a knowledgeable and customer-focused staff. Offering the ability to talk with an expert can make a huge difference between an unhappy customer and one who will be back again and again based on positive past experiences.

However, in the digital age, not all customer interactions are in-person or via live chat. This is when online manuals, Q&A’s and educational videos can be very helpful in resolving problems.

Just remember that first-rate service is vital. Customers will talk to others about their experiences, good or bad. Well-served customers can lead to repeat and new business. Unhappy customers can hurt your reputation and negatively affect sales, and that’s no way to do business.