Building a customer base is one of the most difficult, yet crucial, endeavors that any business owner will ever embark on. And customer service is one of the best places to start. Did you know that most customers will become loyal to a company, and recommend it to their friends, after a good customer service experience? And 86% of consumers are willing to pay substantially more for good customer service. In fact, research indicates that customer service will replace your product and price as the primary brand differentiator by 2020. While customer service is crucial, there are many other things you can do to build a strong customer base. Here are some ideas that may be helpful for your company. \tJoin forces with another business. You don’t need to go it alone. Consider co-marketing with a non-competing business that has a similar customer profile. As long as the company meets the compatibility criteria, your shared efforts can yield rich rewards. \tAdd a new social channel. While you’re most likely on Facebook and a couple of the other heavy hitters, consider adding a new social media site to your quiver. Make it a targeted addition, based on where your best customers spend their time online. \tIntroduce specials for your loyal fans. While we’re on the topic of social channels, you should be offering exclusive promotions and rewards to customers who are kind enough to follow you online. You can promote it through your email lists and advertise on social, which can help to build your following across all channels. \tOffer a free resource on your website. Speaking of offering perks, you can create a free resource on your website. Depending on the nature of your business, it could be something like a white paper, template or product sample. Reward those who follow you, and educate them on your differentiators. \tDo more networking. In a world that is often dominated by online efforts, it’s important not to forget the time-honored tradition of networking. There can be undeniable value from attending networking events and exchanging contact info. One powerful way to introduce yourself to others is to volunteer to speak at business-related events.