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Active listening, 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. Being sensitive to your clients’ needs is essential in some industries, and in others a very useful way to build rapport and grow your business.
For those of us in small business however, we rely upon our member to remember personal details, important information and dates and set timely reminders to stay in touch. For many of us, it is at the end of the day our ability to build the one-on-one relationships that keeps our clients coming back.
#1. People first
According to Ursula Cervellone, founder of Feather Brow Couture, remembering that each and every customer is an individual is at the core of her business practise. “For me, it began to feel like my clients were objects or data points and not people. I knew that we had it all wrong but that was the way their business model was structured, so I left the industry,” says Cervellone
Cervellone stresses that businesses need to behave in a small business mindset. She adds, “Remember your core goals and treat each customer like they’re your friend. I want to know about my clients’ lives, I almost always get to know them on a really personal level – so my targets allow space for me spend this time one-on-one, I treat my clients how I would like to be treated.”
# 2. Active listening
Her line of work means she meets people from all walks of life. Some people just want the perfect brow but often women who have experienced skin and hair damage from cancer or even fire.
Cervellone emphasises the importance of active listening. “Listening is one of the most important skills we have and how well we do it has a major impact on the relationships we build. Listening also happens to be one of the things that we do poorly – it requires that we fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said,” she adds.
# 3. Get a little nosey
According to Cervellone, there is an art to asking the right questions and to listening actively. It starts with a clear mind and follows with a nod and smile and by mimicking the facial expressions of the speaker. “Ask questions. You can always start with ‘comfortable territory’ and slowly build up to more personal questions. As a therapist, I learn so much about my client’s personal lives. They share intimate details about their relationships and their worries. It’s part of why I really love about what I do,” she adds.
#4. Never stop learning
Continuing professional development ensures you are not only competent but it gives you and your staff the confidence to do what you do with perfection. If you know that your skills are second to none, you will have the ability to intrinsically read your client’s needs.
“I want people to come to me with absolute confidence that I will be able to help them, that I will listen and find a tailored solution for their face. I think this is what any small business wants. That’s why I am always going to training sessions, researching, reading and looking for ways to sharpen my skills,” says Cervellone.
So, what is the financial reward to being sensitive to your customers? Well, how much does it typically cost you to market your business and attract new customers? A loyal and satisfied customer will not only become a repeat customer, they also inherently support your business by bringing friends and families into the fold.