This is part one in a two-part series. Read part two here.

Customers have more options than ever as the world continues to shrink and companies across the globe are easier and easier to do business with – but that shouldn’t deter you from offering the very best service you can.

In fact, customers continue to rank “excellent customer service” as one of the top reasons they choose to work with a particular business, according to the American Express 2014 Global Customer Barometer. It’s great news because that means simply being present can grow your business in a big way.

There are lots of ways to be more present for your customers, but here are three to get you started:

Adding a human touch. There’s nothing callers hate as much as an answering machine or voicemail system. In fact, NewVoiceMedia found that 53 percent of the people they surveyed were so put off by not speaking to a live operator that they hung up the phone and called the competition rather than leaving a message.

If over half your callers aren’t leaving messages, you’re practically advertising for the other guys. Instead of losing those leads, have someone on hand to answer the phone so every caller gets the human touch. Even if that operator only takes a message and relays it back to you, callers feel more confident they’ve been heard.

Providing 24/7 customer service. We live in a world that’s always on and your customers expect that you will be, too. Even if the store’s closed, they expect they’ll be able to call you and get answers to their questions. This can create a tricky situation for a business owner, since hiring full-time, around-the-clock telephone operators gets expensive quickly. Partnering with an answering service is a good solution because you get all the help you need at a fraction of the cost of in-house employees. Whether your customers call at 5:30 p.m. or 2 a.m., someone will be there to help them.

Being an emergency contact. There are lots of opportunities to delight and engage your customers every day, but when they’re in serious distress little tops being their go-to emergency contact. Although most of these problems may seem small to you, they’re enormous to the caller or they wouldn’t have bothered to call. Not only will you be able to set their minds at ease, you can earn huge customer service credit with their entire social circles. According to the American Express study, a customer who experiences good customer service is willing to talk about it to an average of eight of their friends (42 percent of those people are likely to become customers because of it).

Being present is just one of many ways to show your customers how much you care. By being there for them whenever they need you, you’ll not only thrill the people who called off an ad or because of a referral, you’ll convert those customers who got tired of waiting for the competition to reach out and touch base with them.

In part two of this two-part series on using your phone to improve your business and grow, we’ll explore even more ways to exceed your customers’ expectations.