There are two coffee shops down your street. Same price, same quality of coffee at both. One’s a little closer to home, perhaps even a little cheaper, but the staff don’t know your name after two years of patronage. The other is a few blocks away, but the barista is always friendly and has your order committed to memory. Which one do you frequent?
It’s a no-brainer, right?
If you want repeat business, hearing what your customers really say, treating each and every one of them as individuals, no matter how much your business grows, is what it’s all about. Actively listening and being sensitive to your clients’ needs is essential in some industries, and in others, it’s a very useful way to build rapport and grow your business.
So, where do you start?
Know thy customer
In the beauty therapy business, you deal with people from all walks of life – we often work with clients who may have lost their eyebrows to cancer or through alopecia. Sensitivity and empathy are vital, and it’s so important to take the time to get to know your customers by asking questions, listening and showing a genuine interest in their lives.
Getting to know my customers on a really intimate level is one of the things I love most about what I do and I make sure I am flexible with my time and targets to allow space for this one-on-one time.
Set realistic goals
Prior to founding Feather Brow Couture, I spent a number of years in the health and nutrition sector, where I eventually grew uncomfortable with the intense focus on sales statistics at the expense of the individual.
This approach wasn’t just backwards, it didn’t actually serve the needs of the business, let alone the customer.
Instead of getting caught up in the pressure of unattainable targets, businesses need to set realistic goals that keep the individual at the centre of their approach. All the studies tell us that repeat customers are profitable, so it just makes sense to devote time to each and every customer.
Commit it to memory
Remembering what a customer has told you and then talking about it later in the conversation opens a doorway into their world. It might just be a tiny detail, but it shows you have really listened and that says so much.
Research also points to the importance of mirroring, or mimicry, which is essentially just another way of listening to your customer – observing their tone, their body language and moderating your own in response. If I have a customer who is a little quiet, then I pick up on that and speak to them with a softer voice, to match their tone. It’s about being respectful, and helping people feel comfortable.
When it comes down to it, without your customers, you don’t have a viable business. They need to know that you value them, and the fastest and easiest way to do that is to listen.
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