Network Solutions used to be our email supplier. We used them for Domains too. After a few years I began to need a little help here and there to manage a number domains for customers and email accounts for my team. When I asked for help it took months to have someone call me. Their online account area was awful to use and I complained in email about making this easier so we could help ourselves. When they finally called at 3 am in the morning, they asked "is this a convenient time to talk with you Mr Cobussen about your account issue?" After explaining the time difference between New Zealand and the USA, I asked to have them call me back. This never happened. Not even a message to say they tried.
Without going into details, we have now left Network Solutions. Its been over 2 years. I set up my own account with a specialist domains supplier who has an online help desk. They have a simple website. It's not pretty but it works well. I can type in an issue and within a few minutes I have someone helping me. A great idea that has been around for some time, but few offer this. We now manage our email through an email application with Google where I can easily add or delete accounts and change things without assistance. The exact sort of services our customers need.
Network Solutions continue to this day to send me automated emails reminding me to renew email addresses that no longer exist or function. This means that in all their giganticness, they don't even know I have left. Network Solutions are big, huge in fact, but the principle of good service is still required to keep customers despite a company's size.
If you want to keep your customers coming back you need to add value and "think for them". You also need to be in their minds eye or else they won't think of you when they need help. The web allows us to add lots of simple self-help, self-service tools to aid customers in using our products. They don't have to be flash or look hot to be effective. However, I am constantly observing companies trying to gain new business by either adding in new technologies or revamping their website look before they ask their customers what they need.
"As workers who tend a fig tree are allowed to eat the fruit, so workers who protect their employer's interests will be rewarded." (Proverb 27:18)
Our customers are our employers. When you go the extra mile with your customers, they will indirectly find you new business. Start in simple areas. You can reduce overheads while offering value added self-service tools. Try offering something of value up front to gain trust - maybe a drawing file for one of your products or the formula to work something tricky out. The more you offer, the more you will be seen as the industry leader. Do not be fooled into locking online files, withholding information and charging for every small piece of work you do.
Don't charge for software that aids in specifying your products, give it away - flood your market with simple value added service and offerings and your business will grow.