The president and CEO of NetSolve admits it: He’s a maniac about customer service. At a restaurant one evening, a diner was told that there weren’t any olives for her martini, so Craig Tysdal ran out to the store and bought her a whole jar — and he didn’t even know her! Here’s how to serve customers the Tysdal way. Own the problem. “Never give one of your problems to a customer,” Tysdal says.

“Accept responsibility.” The “problem” is a chance to win a customer for life — by surpassing her expectations. Listen to yourself. People can spot an attitude a mile away. “Listen to your voice mail. Can you hear attitude?” Re-record the messages with a smile on your face. Empathize — to a point. “That doesn’t mean saying, ‘I feel your pain,’” says Tysdal. It means listen — and don’t fake it. Try helpful phrases such as, “I know these aren’t the results you were hoping for,” while working to fix things.