This is a guest post by Skip Cohen. Be sure to check out Skip Cohen University August 11-14 in Chicago.

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so. Mahatma Gandhi

A year ago I joined Trip Advisor. The reason was a request from one of our favorite local restaurants who asked us to put up a post. This is a “Mom and Pop” Italian restaurant – nothing fancy, but their food is outstanding and we’ve gotten pretty friendly with the owners.Well, I got into Trip Advisor and found it was fun to share our experiences. I also check out other comments from people on not only local restaurants, but places we want to try when traveling. Whether good or bad experiences, I’d do a short post and then watch it take off.Stay with me, because there’s a really good point to my post this morning!Yesterday I got my Trip Advisor update and a post I put up about G. Wiz, the Sarasota children’s science center , has been read by 1302 people. The post was entitled “What a Waste!” and just from the title, you can imagine my approach was anything but complimentary! We took our grand daughter there and it was truly a waste of time and money.

But the real waste was in the lousy customer service when, as we were leaving after only an hour there, I spoke to the clerk at the front desk to complain. Many of the exhibits weren’t working…the place was dirty and tired…it wasn’t cheap to get in and wasn’t worth our time…her response was pure arrogance with a touch of attitude. You know the type. Her entire body language and comment screamed, “I don’t care – I-didn’t-build-it!” She essentially ignored our complaint, telling us there was nothing she could do.

I got home that night and immediately put a post on trip advisor, but just a little good customer service would have neutralized everything and maybe even got us back when they do some renovations! A little empathy, a different attitude and a willingness to share our concerns with a manager at some point. However, it was obvious from her attitude that we weren’t the first to complain.

So, think about the experiences each client has when working with you. You’ll never be able to please everybody, but you can build a relationship on trust and your client’s belief in your ability to provide great service. Your goal with each client is the same, to exceed expectations and become habit-forming! Maintain that level of service and you’ll always be able to bridge the credibility gap when it comes to a problem.

Most of you don’t have a big staff, but regardless, remember to train everybody who talks to clients. When you do hit the wall with an unhappy client, then work to resolve issues quickly and ALWAYS play the empathy card. You can defuse virtually any situation with two sentences,

“I can’t blame you for being upset, but the buck stops here. Let’s see if I can help.”

Years ago, in my Polaroid days, they used to say, one unhappy customer had the ability to influence 3-5 people…Today that number is in the thousands. Virtually everybody has the same potential reach as small magazines had twenty years ago!