If there was only one thing a business could do to help themselves grow, it would be to provide good customer service.

According to American Express’s 2014 Global Customer Service Barometer, an increasing number of customers believe that businesses are paying less attention to providing good customer service and 29 percent surveyed revealed that companies tend to miss their customer service expectations entirely.

The good news is that it’s not going to take much to beat the competition, many of whom are clearly phoning it in. But defining what good customer service looks like can be much trickier.

Here are some tips for delivering the best customer service possible:

#1. Overwhelmingly, customers want satisfactory answers to their questions. In fact, 86 percent of the people surveyed said this was a “very important” aspect of good customer service. The truth is that business owners are often so busy juggling duties that they sometimes fail to hear a customer out, missing a huge opportunity. This is where an answering service could make you shine — after all, their one and only duty is to answer the phone and give your callers the attention and answers they seek.

#2. Trying to sell customers something instead of listening to their problems doesn’t help. Even suggestive selling can quickly become obtuse when callers are looking for a solution to a particular problem. Only eight percent of American Express’s survey participants wanted to be sold to, so you may need to find a better way to increase the bottom line. Providing a friendly answering service, for example, can go much further to promote your brand than product pushers.

#3. Personalized service and follow-up are invaluable. American Express found what most business owners have long suspected: customers respond to personalized service and appreciate call follow-ups. Although it can be time consuming to deliver this type of service, contracting with an answering service puts you in a unique position to both offer the type of personalized service your customers demand, as well as the follow-up to ensure they’re being taken care of properly. Even a small business can set its answering service to these tasks and provide better service than a Fortune 500 company.

#4. The best customer service is available around the clock. We’re living in a 24-hour world and your customers are on 24-hour schedules. Your day isn’t over just because it’s 5:00 pm — in fact, it may just be beginning. Whatever line of business you’re in, it’s important that customers can reach you or a representative at all hours. An after-hours answering service can fulfill this need by keeping someone by the phone when you can’t be there in order to answer questions and relay emergency calls and messages.

Customers who get the service they’re seeking are customers who will tell their friends about the experience. When you’re paying close attention to how both in-store customers and callers are handled, you can find even more ways to improve the already awesome customer service you’re offering them. After all, word of mouth is still the most powerful advertising known to businesses of all sizes.