Reluctant consumers, and companies who are buying less, may have small business owners scratching their heads about what to do next.

Here’s an idea: Take excellent care of the customers you have now. When economic conditions become more favorable, they will buy more from you than they do now. At the same time, getting into the habit of treating customers outstandingly will be a plus as new accounts come to you.

Customer LoyaltyCustomer loyalty has taken a different form than in times past. Newly loyal customers need to like more than your name and your products. There’s an old name for what they want: customer service. In its purest form, however, it boils down to what’s described as the “customer experience.”

In retail, it is particularly important. As a consumer yourself, you know what we’re talking about. Have you ever wondered if the item you want is worth the trouble of finding a sales associate to take your money?

Or, do you want to buy a certain thing and can’t find it. The department is deserted and so is the one next to it. In these cases, you won’t have the customer experience because you won’t become one. You’ll give up and walk out.

There are larger stakes involved when the customer experience involves selling to another company. The individual sale is larger and the transaction requires more than sending a bill to a distant buyer.

Superb customer service brings enormous benefits to an organization. Assisted by technology that immediately brings up information about the customer’s products and needs, an employee should be able to focus on the sale or solution to a problem without handing it off to someone else.