Week after week I write about gaining free publicity.

But, the best publicity you can get is from your customers. Happy customers will tell other people how great you are and bottom line, that’s what PR is all about, getting customers. No one can sell you better than a happy customer.

Personally, I learned this when owning a retail store. We opened in 2002. Yep, the year before the economy tanked. We were in a tiny historic house, off the beaten path, in a blighted town. Everything was stacked against us but, we survived! In fact, my old business partner still owns the store today and it is thriving. How did we make it through one of the worst economic downturns  in our lifetime? We provided outstanding customer service.

We got to know our customers, took pride in knowing what they liked so they always got the perfect gift. We called everyone by name and if anything went wrong or a customer wasn’t happy, we’d take anything back, no questions asked. You might think we were crazy. We would take anything back after any amount of time? Yep! And only one person in ten years abused that privilege. Those are some amazing odds. We made it because we made people happy and then they told their friends and they were happy, and they told their friends…. you get it. Happy customers equal more customers.

Now, I get to be like Oprah and share with you my favorite businesses because of their amazing customer service.

In no certain order,

1)   Amazon. They never disappoint. Amazon is what I call a “yes” store. They make things happen to please their customers.

2)   Zappos. I feel like Tony Shiesh invented customer service in retail. He stood by his beliefs when everyone thought he was nuts and look at the powerhouse brand he has built, based on customer service.

3)   Costco – I love Costco! Just like the other two, they will do anything they can to keep their customers happy. I’ve seen people bring back one can of a pack of six and Costco gives them back their money. Like we experienced in our store, most people don’t abuse it so if you are keeping the majority of your full-paying customers happy, that pays off in the long run.

These are three of my favorite places to shop because no matter what, I’ll end up happy. Remember that when you are dealing with your customers. In today’s age of instant communication and electronic everything, the customer is ALWAYS right.

Do you have any great customer services stories or experiences you can share?