There are few better ways to keep your customers than to give them the absolutely best service anywhere.

In fact, customers crave your care so much that they’re even willing to pay more overall for a better experience. According to the American Express 2014 Global Customer Service Barometer, 68 percent of customers are willing to pay extra for excellent customer service, an average of 14 percent more. That’s no small vote from your customers for better service.

For those same customers, 86 percent said that getting a satisfactory answer to their questions was paramount to quality customer service and 78 percent were happy if they were at least connected with someone knowledgeable. NewVoiceMedia found that 75 percent of customers still think calling is the best solution for a quick response, but that 53 percent of those callers are irritated if they don’t get a person immediately.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review explored the value of customers’ emotional connections to brands, bringing some surprising results to light. The more connected your customers feel to your company, the more they’re worth to you in hard dollars. They used satisfied customers as the baseline for comparison, and found that as customers become increasingly connected, they can be up to 52 percent more valuable than a customer who is merely satisfied. Unconnected customers are worth 18 percent less than even baseline satisfied customers.

Turning the Numbers into Action

What do all this numbers mean for you? They mean that there’s one simple way to capture the hearts of your customers: a high level commitment to service. You’re there to do the heavy lifting when a customer comes through the doors, but do you greet your callers with the same enthusiasm?

Sometimes it’s tough to juggle in-store customers with customers calling with questions, forcing you to choose — obviously the person in the store gets priority because they’re standing in front of you. That clear choice can mean alienating your callers, though.

There’s a simple solution to providing the best customer service possible. You can hire an overflow answering service, or contract with one full-time. Instead of letting the phone ring and ring, that caller will immediately be connected with a customer service expert at your answering service who is ready and willing to help them when you can’t. It’s a partnership that’s good for your customers, which is great for business.

Customer Service Equals Customer Connections

When your telephone is your biggest customer service stumbling block, hiring an answering service to help with appointment setting, handling customer questions and assisting with overnight or emergency calls only makes sense.

Because you only pay for the calls they take, your small business can increase your customer connections and your bottom line with very little output. Those customers who are just calling around or who are merely satisfied with your service can become increasingly profitable when they know that you’ll always be available, no matter when they need you.

The value of customer service can’t be overstated. It’s clear that not only is excellent customer service good for your customers, it’s good for your business. Those long-term connections can also bear fruit in the form of referrals, making them significantly more valuable than flash-in-the-pan purchasers.