A truly extraordinary business goes further and deeper than most — it makes the bold move toward actually caring about customers and becoming truly service-centric. By changing its motives, the business is able to produce happier employees, which leads to a more successful and loyal customer base.

How? When you take care of your employees, they take care of your customers. By not focusing on creating a service-centric culture, you’re doing your business a disservice — you’re creating a brand focused on nothing more than one-way transactions, which isn’t extraordinary.

Since it’s common to see businesses that are stuck in a self-motivated, efficiency-at-all-costs mode, you can easily differentiate and outplay competitors by making selfless service integral to your core culture.

Build a Reputation That Wows

Does service beyond expectations pay off? You decide:

Recently, a woman shared a fascinating anecdote with me about adopting a service-first mentality. While meeting with a prospect, she noticed his company whiteboard was filled with organizations he was trying to target. The woman asked whether she could introduce this prospect to some influencers at those organizations, and they eagerly discussed the possibilities. When she returned to her office, she discovered the prospect had sent her seven unsolicited introductions as repayment.

There’s no better example of selfless service. This woman helped a prospect build a community without asking for anything in return. She focused on finding the best solution for her clients and generously referred them to people within her network.

In commercial real estate, that means helping people negotiate the best lease possible and closing loopholes that might haunt them later in the process. Our team spends significantly more energy per client than industry norms, which some view as “inefficient.” This strategy has worked for us, turning our clients into raving fans who shower us with referrals.

This illustrates the difference between service and sales. The former is enjoyable and rewarding; the latter is self-promotional and limiting. Focus on the bottom line, but never to the exclusion of going above and beyond to serve the best interests of your client.

Start on the Path to Service Redemption

Become a groundbreaking service provider by asking yourself two questions.

First, how you can identify things outside the normal scope for your clients? Anticipating client needs before those needs are apparent is a valuable skill. Providing this service to your clients is like having the ability to predict a natural disaster before it strikes. You’re able to prepare for it and produce a more thoughtful, effective solution.

Second, what potential issues can you mitigate for your clients? In other words, how will you listen and probe to uncover the not-so-obvious downstream pitfalls on behalf of customers who trust your judgment?

After answering those questions, you will be ready to put these pioneering service practices into play.

1. Weave service throughout your current routines. In the coming weeks, don’t change anything except your mindset. During every client exchange, take a decidedly different approach from the normal “What can I get out of this?” attitude. Instead, approach the moment with a “What can I do to serve this person?” mentality. The change in tone, interaction, and ability to build strong relationships will be monumental.

Sound ridiculously simple? It is. Outwardly, nothing in your daily routine should change— the only change will be your focus.

2. Find ways to help colleagues achieve excellence. Providing complete, no-holds-barred service starts internally with energized team members. Ask yourself how you can help your workers stay engaged so they can pass along enthusiastic service. As a Forbes Insight survey noted, the most direct path to high customer satisfaction is through employees who feel supported to be innovative and hone their talents.

Give your employees plenty of room to develop, grow, and excel. Over time, providing a strong culture backed by professional support will pay off in lowered turnover. Employees will stay true to your brand as a response to your respectful, service-oriented treatment.

3. Anticipate down-the-road needs. Your clients have future needs, but most have no idea what they are. If you can steer them away from possible land mines or talk them out of bad decisions, you will win their trust. Use your expertise to provide the foresight they may lack.

At the same time, work with them to set up best-case scenarios. When good things happen, they’ll remember and speak highly of your mentoring and honesty.

Broaden your approach to serving clients by moving from exchanging goods to changing lives. You might be shocked at how easy it can be to differentiate your brand just by changing your culture to reflect a service-oriented mindset.