Leadership guru Ken Blanchard said, “Business is like tennis. Those who serve well win.” Marketing guru John Jantsch said, “Customer service is an opportunity to exceed your customer’s expectations.” Technological innovator Steve Jobs said, “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.”

Service to customers is the path to success, but not everyone has gotten the message. Research from NewVoiceMedia found that U.S. companies with poor customer service lose $41 billion a year. That’s no small change, so pay attention. There are several areas where customer service is delivered – or not:

Person to person – Whether in the home or on the phone, make sure everyone who has contact with customers understands the value of treating them with courtesy and respect.

Website – Folks flock here for answers to questions, so post answers before they ask. Create an FAQ page with common concerns. For instance, explain which smells, sounds, smoke, leaks require a call right away – and what can wait till morning. Be sure to post a phone number and email address for customers to ask specific questions – and respond pronto.

Social media – More and more customers look for customer service via social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. According to JD Power, that number is as high as 67%. Watch your feeds; respond to comments. Be courteous, timely and encourage the customer to give you an email address or phone number to resolve the problem offline.

According to that NewVoiceMedia survey, if you neglect customer service, 44% will take their business elsewhere. Their biggest concerns are: lack of appreciation from a business (53%), unhelpful/rude contact (42%), being passed around (32%), lacking knowledge to answer question (29%) and being kept on hold (25%).