Exceed expectations and secure customer loyalty.

Customer service isn't just about the friendly face at the counter. Consider Endless.com. Stellar customer service is at the core of everything this online retailer does — how many companies do you know of that offer returns up to a year later?

While offering unconditional returns may not be in your cards, you can still up the ante with ideas that work on a small-business budget: Reliability, competitive rates and choice.

You are how you ship.

You work hard to please your clients. Drop the ball on shipping and everything you've done to impress your customers goes out the window.

But even when things go right, your choice of shipping says a lot about your business. Choosing a shipping provider like FedEx — which enjoys an industry-leading reliability record — tells your customers their satisfaction is top priority.

Keep their options open.

Customers also appreciate having a choice of delivery options to suit their needs. Evening, time-specific and by-appointment delivery are just some of the options FedEx Home Delivery® offers to let you match your shipping to your customers' busy lives.

Let them know where they stand.

How often do customers call and ask, "Where's my order?" Not only is it a distraction for you to have to handle these calls, every one is another blow to your customer satisfaction rating. Automated email notifications — created and scheduled automatically by FedEx when an order is processed — helps keep these calls to a minimum and your reputation intact. You can also take advantage of FedEx Web Services and allow your customers to ship, get rates, track the status of their shipments, validate addresses and process returns without ever leaving your site.

Remember, it's their money.

Shipping is the last impression you leave with a customer — until they order from you again. You want them to receive your product safely and on time — but you don't want to overcharge them.

While a top-drawer shipping service says a lot about you, offering it to customers at competitive rates says even more. One of the advantages of working with a single shipping provider like FedEx is the ability to structure rates that let you offer even premium delivery for less than customers expect. And even with basic services there's room to impress: FedEx Home Delivery® offers Saturday delivery standard, so you can have it there two days ahead of your competition at no extra cost.

Give them something to talk about.

In this digital social age, Facebook, Twitter and countless online review sites make it easier than ever for customers to tell the world about their encounter. Give them reason to talk you up by delivering a more reliable, cost-efficient and customized shipping experience.

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