Interesting article this week from Karen E. Klein on "Building Customer Relations by Listening" in BusinessWeek (Smart Answers June 1, 2007), in which she finds that communication is a foundation of better customer service... sometimes as simply as asking your customers and employees...

"Customer service is one area where small companies can outshine their competitors and cultivate intense loyalty among regular customers. But exceptional customer service goes beyond mere politeness into nuanced relationship building. Diane Berenbaum, senior vice-president of Communico, a Westport (Conn.) customer service consultancy, has just written How to Talk to Customers (Jossey-Bass, 2007) with her colleague Tom Larkin. She spoke recently to Smart Answers columnist Karen E. Klein about what makes a great impression on a customer and where some small-business owners miss chances to wow their clients. Edited excerpts of their conversation follow. "