I’ve always loved shopping. I can vividly remember those annual back-to-school shopping trips with my mom and sister. We would spend an entire day at the department store! I loved the smell of the new clothes, the milkshake at the counter when we were finished, and most of all, the care that the salespeople took in helping us to find those perfect outfits for the new school year.

My love for shopping put me behind the counter when I took a job as a retail sales associate in high school. I learned quickly that the customer is always right (even when they are, technically, wrong). I also learned that people want to be heard. I learned to listen and ask questions. I learned that a friendly smile and sincere compliments opened the door for sales.

When I started my own direct sales business seven years ago, I made excellent customer service my benchmark. My goal is simple: to stand out in the marketplace by providing a level of customer service that cannot be found elsewhere. I believe that this is part of the relationship which creates customer and brand loyalty. This loyalty will keep your customers returning to you time and again. I like to call this “Nordstrom’s customer service.” Anyone who has every shopped at Nordstrom’s knows what I am referring to. The entire shopping process is designed to be a wonderful experience. From the initial contact with an enthusiastic, helpful salesperson, to the hand-written note thanking you for your business, to the thoughtful follow-up.

When your ultimate objective is the well-being of your customers, they learn to trust you. This trust leads to referrals, increased sales, and even, sometimes, a customer who becomes a consultant.

Excellent customer service takes time and effort for sure. Some of the steps include touching base throughout the purchasing process, following up to make sure the customer is completely happy, facilitating returns/exchanges when necessary, keeping in touch when favorite products go on sale, assisting in gift purchases for loved ones, and even sending special notes just to let the customer know you appreciate their business. I do these things because I believe it is much easier to keep a current customer happy then it is to go out and find a new one. I also learned long ago, a happy, satisfied customer is the best advertiser you will ever have.

I teach my team that customer care and follow-up is the cornerstone of a successful direct sales business. A solid customer base will give you a strong income. Customers often become hosts and hosts often become consultants. All of these are important in the long-term growth of your business, and it all starts with taking the time to develop that initial customer relationship.

For the past seven years, WENDY LIVINGSTONE has grown both a large team of direct selling consultants and a large customer base. Wendy and her husband, John, are the parents of four teenagers and reside in Virginia.