Superior customer service is a powerful tool in the home building and remodeling industry. As all builders know,  happy customers lead to referrals and help build a business.

Many large national retailers are known for their exemplary approach to service, and builders would do well to model their customer interactions after them. Here are a few of the takeaways from some of America's biggest firms:

ZAPPOS: View every customer interaction as a chance to build your brand.
From its hassle-free return process to personalized responses to customer complaints, Zappos has created a fiercely loyal customer base through its world-class customer service. And since satisfied customers sing their praises via word of mouth, their budget allocated to marketing is nominal.

Zero marketing spend may not be the best practice for many designers or builders, but harnessing the power of your satisfied customers is, especially when 84% of consumers first and foremost trust recommendations from friends and family, according to a recent Nielsen survey.

APPLE: Streamline transactions.
Building professionals should take a cue from this tech giant when it comes to creating streamlined processes for their customers. Apple has analyzed what consumers like and dislike about shopping and has put steps in place to address those issues. Customers can schedule appointments with a “Genius” in retail stores to avoid waiting around for the next available clerk and receipts are emailed to avoid long check-out lines. Transactions can get in the way of the customer experience so keep the interaction focused on what’s most important--them.

AMAZON: Strive to be a customer-centric company.
Amazon knows firsthand that when everything is aligned—from operations to logistics—to work for the ultimate benefit of customers, it benefits Amazon in the long run, as well. While the design and construction industry can’t always deliver in two days or less like Amazon Prime, we can, however, take a look at our project management and operations to determine how we can better—and in a more timely fashion—meet client needs. Improved efficiency means happier clients, faster job turnaround, and ideally, more work.

ZAPPOS: Empower your front-line to be problem solvers.
Zappos understands that if a customer needs to speak to a “manager” it is already too late to have a happy customer. Empower every employee interacting with your customers on a daily basis to be front-line problem solvers. Every employee can manage the day-to-day issues and go into customer service recovery mode if every employee is a “manager."

UBER: Manage expectations through frequent, timely communication.This on-demand car service champions customer experience through its app, which communicates with users throughout the entire process (examples: surge charge notifications during rush hour or rainy weather, estimated pick-up time, etc.) to manage expectations. By maintaining constant communication with your client, everyone stays on the same page when it comes to progress, timeline, and budget.