02/11/2014 09:36 am ET Updated Apr 13, 2014

Customer Service: 4 Creative Ways to Improve the Client Experience

Excellent customer service is synonymous with sustained success and growth in a business. Studies prove customers who are treated fairly are likely to pay more for better service and stay loyal for years. Now look at your business. Could your customer service department benefit from a re-boot? If so, consider implementing the following recommendations.

Secret Shop Yourself

Your sales are down, but you aren't sure why. Instead of crunching numbers in your back office, switch roles entirely and become a customer of your business. If your company is large (and you are not easily recognizable), patronize your establishment and evaluate the service that you receive.

If you are a virtual business, order something from your company's website or call the customer service line a few times and ask difficult questions to see how your staff responds. Take meticulous notes and refer back to those notes when consulting later with your employees.

If you truly cannot secret shop yourself, ask a friend to do it for you. This exercise is guaranteed to be eye opening, even if your customer service representatives are top notch.

Become An Employee

Gather together members of your customer service department and ask them to share their biggest concerns and frustrations as well as the tactics they use that work. Then tell them that for the next three days you will be putting yourself in their shoes by manning the phones and interacting personally with customers.

Like secret shopping, this experience can be incredibly enlightening. Take note of your own frustrations and wins during this time; the insider's view you gain will help you better manage your customer service department.

Survey Your Staffers

The happiness of your employees is directly related to the satisfaction that your customers feel. Aren't sure how your company stacks up in terms of employee fulfillment? Send out a survey. I recommend putting together a simple questionnaire using SurveyMonkey or 15Five. Both platforms are easy to use and with SurveyMonkey employees can answer anonymously -- a key to getting the real dirt on how everyone feels.*

Revamp Your Recruiting Efforts

The caliber of talent on your team is directly related to the effectiveness of the customer service that you put out. Sit down and think hard about the candidates you are attracting. Do you wish you had more of a certain type of employee? Try writing down the character traits of your top dogs and then designing a recruiting campaign to find people just like them. Referral programs can be a tremendous help in this area; talk to your peak performers and ask them for referrals. Spend time building your employee referral program (focus on monetary rewards) and even put posters around the office promoting the new initiative. The constant emphasis on attracting the best talent will pay off not only for the benefit of your internal culture, but your customer retention rates will also look healthier in no time.

*CORRECTION: A previous version of this blog post incorrectly stated that employee respondents to 15Five surveys could answer anonymously.