Dear M & M: How can I make a difference? They say stand out from the crowd, solve a problem, or just be nice? —Bob

Dear Bob: You have a great start. The three things you mentioned are perfect. Let’s add a little more to it.

Probably, the first thing one must do is to be genuine. You must actually mean it. You cannot fake customer service. People will sniff you out. Everyone that works in your organization must understand and be aware that this is important and everyone should want to do it and not be forced into having to really want to provide a great customer experience always.

Step one; everyone is important, valued and should be made to feel those sentiments every day, all day, every time. Secondly, attention to the small things is important. From the burnt-out light in the showcase to the fingerprints on the front door if something isn’t right it’s everyone’s job to get it fixed.

Paying attention to the details is a very important second step. We have all heard we have two ears and one mouth, use them proportionally. This leads to two-way communication. Listening to what wasn’t said is another very important part to effectively communicate. All this isn’t as easy as it sounds.

In addition, starting, growing and maintaining any business is hard work. Commitment to constantly look for new ways to sustain, grow or start any business is a twenty-four hour seven days a week undertaking.

Summing it all up, solving a problem, treating people fairly and just being nice might be enough to stand out from the crowd. It’s as simple as selling something people need that are ready, willing and able to buy.

ASK M&M is prepared and submitted by Mark Schmitt, director of the Small Business Development Center at Cochise College; and Mignonne Hollis, executive director at the Arizona Economic Development Foundation. To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Cochise College 520-515-5478 or email schmittm@cochise.edu or contact the Arizona Regional’ Economic Development Foundation at 520-458-6948 or email hollism@aredf.org; www.aredf.org.