Considering all things being equal, why is it that some companies flourish in the face of adversity while others crumble? Studies have proven that it is not because a company offers a lower price, or even a better product for that matter. The truth is, customers simply prefer to shop at places where they are given the attention they feel they deserve, and more. Business innovation, concepts, strategies and trends will always undergo fluctuation, but one thing that remains constant and has always remained constant is consumers’ need for satisfaction. And if there was just one reason why quality customer service is of utmost importance, it is that customers are the lifeblood of every business.

So, why is that many companies still don’t get it? Why is it that many business books ago and many business books today, which continue to emphasize the importance of providing quality customer service, fail to convince many businesses to take it seriously? It’s a fact that companies can spend millions of dollars in customer research and CRM, but all that data comes to naught if customers can’t enjoy a positive emotional experience from a business transaction.

Customers have grown to expect quality customer service wherever it is that they shop at, or eat at. Customers expect nothing less. Satisfaction, to them has to be part of a business’s overall package. You can make a feeble attempt at trying to blame this on customers being spoilt for choice, with so many products and choices constantly being made available to them. But, who are we trying to kid. This is the reality of today’s economics of commerce and companies that can’t deliver quality customer service will unfortunately pay the price.

If there are still doubts as to the importance of providing quality customer service, then turn your attention to a tool that in the hands of a dissatisfied customer, can be portentous. This tool, known famously as the Internet, has provided a platform for customers to publicly name and shame companies for delivering less than favorable customer service. The weapons of choice for customers are usually in the form of blogs, forums, podcasts and videos uploaded to YouTube, or social networking sites like MySpace. This is the type of negative word-of-mouth marketing that no company can afford to bear, as the viral nature of the Internet can tear down a company’s reputation built over many years, in only a matter of hours.

So, what can companies do today to consistently deliver quality customer service and potentially avoid an otherwise public online humiliation? Well, for a start, get the basics of customer service right. That means putting the human touch back into customer service.

Using the human touch to deliver quality customer service isn’t complicated. All it takes is a genuine smile, a simple greeting, and the desire to give the customer whatever he or she wants without fuss. That’s usually all it takes to deliver a service that leaves the customer completely satisfied.

But, why stop there when you can put the “Wow” back into customer service? Putting the “Wow” into your service means breaking free from the standard deliverance of customer satisfaction and personalizing your service, tailored specifically for each customer. Talk about making your customer feel special, this is the way to doing it.

It’s this “Wow” factor that will fatten your bottom line even when the going is tough. It’s this “Wow” factor that can set you apart from your competitors, where nothing else differentiates your business from theirs. How difficult is it to send out an email to your customers on their birthdays, acknowledging their special day from someone they least expect to hear from? How many other companies are doing this? Not many, that’s for sure.

Businesses may have gotten away with rotten customer service decades ago and escaped with their reputation intact. But times have changed. The new economics of commerce demands that customers be given the attention that they deserve. This is not a bad thing, because if you’re able to keep your customers coming back for more, you’ll be in a very enviable position of sustained growth.