A client calls your office or maybe even stops by. Perhaps there is a problem with the job, maybe they have changed their minds once again about a paint color, or perhaps another priority has caused them to cancel a meeting you’ve taken pains to arrange.

How do you react? After all, time is money and they’ve just squandered some of both by their indecision or failure to plan ahead. Depending on which side of the bed you got up on, you could take it all in stride with a smile or descend into chronic irritability, making yourself and all those around you miserable.

Anyone in business knows that some jobs are fraught with problems and some clients are just plain difficult. Yet your next job and the referrals you will get depend on your providing awesome customer service to this annoying client. Anything short of that will cost you plenty in the long run.

I won’t deny that you’ll have clients who will try to take advantage of you, press for job enhancements they’re unwilling to pay for, or create such morale problems for your people that you’re better off without them. Get rid of those deadbeats as quickly as you can. The clients I’m talking about are the vast majority of your customers who are under great stress because of damage to their property or disruptions to their lives; your work on their property only adds to their distress. They will have bad days but even then, they deserve awesome customer service. In fact, everyone who comes in contact with your company at any level deserves awesome customer service.

Awesome customer service is the enthusiasm and smile in the voice of the person who answers your phones, the care to ensure that no carelessly tossed cigarette butts are left on the driveway at your job site, the punctuality you show in keeping appointments, and any small steps you can take to make your clients’ lives a little better.

Look around and you’ll find plenty of examples of poor customer service. The people working at these companies are just drawing a paycheck. Their contact with you is necessary but not something they take pride in. Then there are the gems in customer service that make us all want to come back.

Publix is a chain of grocery stores in the South known for quality customer service. They are not the cheapest, but their stores are always busy. The aisles are wide and stockers will ask if they can help as you shop when you pass by. During a recent trip I watched as a senior citizen prepared to roll her cart toward the exit. It had started to rain and, without being prompted by anyone, the store manager walked over with two large umbrellas, one for her and the other for the teenage bag boy. The manager told the lady the young man would take her to her car, load her groceries and return with both umbrellas. Compare that with experiences at cheaper stores where the lines are long, the cashiers can be surly and, if your car is 100 yards away, well, good luck.

Amazon, the biggest online retailer in the world, enjoys success because of its emphasis on customer service. Consider this statement on core values from Amazon’s website: “Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.”

Passion for customer service will separate your business from the competitor down the street. What can you do today to improve the experience of someone who contacts your business?