Good customer service is key to success for many small businesses especially those whose main source of business is recommendations. We've all experienced good customer service but the chances are it's the bad experiences you'll remember. Recent research shows that UK consumers are three times more likely to tell friends and family about a bad experience than a good one, so making your mark for the right reasons is vital to winning more work through word of mouth.

Here are our top 3 tips to delivering memorable customer service for all the right reasons.

1. First impressions count. Before you've even met your potential customer, they will have made a few assumptions about you based on the way you, or your voicemail, answer the phone. It's not always practical to pick up especially if you're up a ladder or demolishing a kitchen so more often than not your voicemail message will form the first impression. It sounds simple but make sure your voicemail is professional and states your name and your company name so they can be sure they have the right person. Let them know when you expect to return their call (eg. We'll get back to you within 24 hours) and don't forget to change your message if you go away on holiday. If you are able to pick up, again start with your company name so they know they have the correct person and keep your tone friendly but professional. For most people having building work done is not an everyday occurrence so putting them at ease will help.

2. Don't be judged by your cover. You've heard the phrase never judge a book by its cover but it's so easy to do. When you go out to quote for a job make sure you're well-presented and displaying your company logo proudly on your polo or jacket. Customers expect to see a bit of dirt on your boots but don't turn up caked in plaster and always offer to take your shoes off or wear cover shoes to protect carpets. If you're a member of a trade association such as the FMB make sure to display their logo too to show you've met the standards to be called a Master Builder.

3. Communication is key. Relationships often break down due to poor communication. Make sure you give your client regular updates of what you expect to achieve and if you do get called away to an urgent job elsewhere let them know when you expect to be back on site - there's nothing more worrying to a customer than a builder digging foundations then disappearing without trace for 3 days! Unexpected problems and delays can have the potential to derail a good working relationship so make sure you let your customer know of any issues or problems you encounter straight away. Explain to them what impact it will have on both timescale and budget and offer them a solution to the problem. If any changes are made once work commences put it in writing along with additional costs then of a dispute does arise further down the line you both know where you stand