When big companies talk about marketing and sales, and ROI impact, customer service is often cut out of the conversation.

But entrepreneurs know better — because they do it all.

That’s why companies large and small lend a proverbial ear to Peter Shankman, an entrepreneur, author and speaker with no shortage of energy or stories.

He’s built his businesses and personal brand around accessibility, helping others and just being himself, onstage and off. In other words, he’s the kind of person you’d want to work with, learn from and have a beer with.

He brings that same spirit to his new book: Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans. A blend of real examples and anecdotes, lessons learned from his work in PR and marketing, and dozens of ideas worth stealing, the book is a crash course in how to cultivate impenetrable business relationships.

Build Relationships Like A Boss

In essence, Shankman writes, maximizing the bottom line has pulled many companies away from genuine service to people. (Remember gas stations cleaning your windows and checking your oil? Probably not.) As consumers, we all now expect this, and we’re so accustomed to poor service that we see it as the rule, rather than the exception.

And that’s the big opportunity, no matter what the size of your organization. We can all take cues from the book’s numerous examples of how to treat customers like royalty, such as:

  • Morton’s The Steakhouse providing personalized menus for guests with special events and occasions noted in the reservation.
  • Skratch Labs sending a thank you card and product samples when you order through their nutrition products directly from their website.
  • RSC Contracting surprised a homeowner client with a photo album they’d made of the before, during and after photos of the home renovation, with the homeowner?s name engraved on the cover.

But it’s not just killer customer service. It’s also making relationship building and listening part of your DNA. Having actual conversations with clients, instead of simply sending yet another survey or monitoring social media.

Shankman recounts how Barry Diller supposedly devoted a half hour every day to calling 10 people at random from his rolodex. Not to pitch, not to sell, just to say hi, check in and maintain relationships. Did that advance his work? Of course, because trust builds relationships and business.

Zombie Loyalists is an ideal primer for that, but ultimately, the outcomes are on the reader.

As Shankman writes, “Implementing any idea for your business comes with a few choices: you can worry about it, overthink it, and eventually not do it; you can dismiss it out of hand; or you can give it a shot.”

So, which option will you choose? What can you change? Where will you start?

Check Out Shankman In Chat, On Stage

For a few more interesting tidbits from the book, check out my impromptu chat with Peter:

In his ASCEND session, Shankman further expanded on the concepts in his book, including transparency, branding and examples of stellar customer service. For more insight into building relationships, you can now order video of Peter Shankman’s ASCEND session.

What examples of great customer service have you experienced or provided? Let us know in the comments!