Making your customers feel special
It’s the kind of question Ron Kaufman loves to hear. “How do you sweet talk your customers?” To Kaufman, one of the world’s foremost thought leaders and educators on customer service, the only thing better than this question is the answer. Kaufman doesn’t believe you can do it enough. Sweet-talking is not what you think it is, nor is it a strategy to be taken lightly.
For wellness providers, education and motivation are the two most valuable styles of customer service. By consistently equipping your customers with education and motivation, you are, in Kaufman’s estimation, providing all the sweet talk they need to recognize you as someone who cares about what they need, someone they enjoy visiting for an appointment.
“Teach your customers what they need to understand and encourage them to take the actions they need to take, that’s what it’s all about,” says Kaufman, founder of UP! Your Service, a global service education and management consultancy firm with offices in the United States and Singapore.
The culture, the style and the feel of being served by you is what will differentiate you as a wellness company. Kaufman believes you must make the experience of your office, your service and your team special in some way. Make it playful, musical, serene or upbeat. Sweet-talking your customers comes when you turn your “vanilla” office experience into a special flavor that suits your personality and your customers.
And there are plenty of ways to do this. With today’s technology, every communication with your customers should be personalized, especially if you have personalized information to do it. For example, Kaufman says customers with children should receive a different message than those who aren’t parents. At the same time, personalization by personal touch is not only a precious touch, but also a rare one today. “A handwritten note means so much,” Kaufman says. “It means you care and that you want to connect with them on a different level.”
“Teach your customers what they need to understand and encourage them to take the actions they need to take, that’s what it’s all about.”
– Ron Kaufman, Founder, UP! Your Service
One of the simplest and most effective ways to communicate with your customers is to create easy to understand “tip sheets” for them to paste on their refrigerators, bathroom mirrors, etc. Keep them short and simple, and colorful and attractive. “Wellness is a daily regimen, and as a marketer you want to be a part of their lives on a daily basis, not just the service provider they visit when something is wrong,” says Kaufman, who also wrote the New York Times bestseller “Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet.”
Kaufman says these kinds of tips can be shared on wallet cards, post cards, attractive small posters, social media, in your telephone recording (and on-hold messages), etc. “The best you can do is make sure that whatever it is you’re asking them has an action-oriented questions such as, ‘What is your next step?’”
Robert Epstein, Ph.D., believes that asking questions, especially ones that are a little more personal, is one of the best ways you can connect with your clients or potential clients. This approach is an effective way to create the kind of emotional bonds that are critical in today’s ultra-competitive business landscape. It also shows that you care about them beyond just being a customer.
Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology reminds us, “It doesn’t have to be done just in person, you can do it by email, too. These days, this type of communication can easily be done on a larger scale through social media tools such as SurveyMonkey.”
Make your words count
Throughout his years as a professionally certified coach, Ted Gorski has worked with scores of emerging leaders and trailblazers to create extraordinary results when it comes to building customer service platforms. Thanks to his efforts, Gorski is a past winner of the “Executive Coach of the Year” award from the International Coach Federation’s New England chapter.
So, when you mention the art of sweet-talking your customers, Gorski is quick to point out how important that strategy is to communication and marketing efforts. When it comes to marketing, Gorski believes that your identity – who you are, how you communicate, etc. – is much more important than your image.
“A word to strike from your marketing vocabulary is image,” says Gorski, president of Get Your Edge, which provides coaching, workshops, teambuilding exercises and coaching clubs. “An image is a façade, something phony. A far better term is identity. Your identity is automatically honest. If you communicate a real identity, people sense feelings of comfort and relaxation when they contact you. What they see in your marketing is ultimately what they get from your goods and services – and that builds trust and rapport. Your identity should stand for high quality, integrity and a down to earth approach with a focus on reliable solutions.”
Gorski’s sweet-talk approach falls into several categories, including your ability to stand out among your competition, making them comfortable with the experience you provide, the steadiness of your communication with them and the compliance of your style. “You are building a relationship with your customers, so it’s important that they understand who you are and what you are all about. It’s about building that connection up front.”
In the wellness marketer, where consumers have a number of choices, your ability to stand out is critical to your success. “Maybe you have coffee and snacks for them when they are there,” Gorski says. “Maybe you find out the demographics of your customers, so you have the right kind of environment and magazines sitting in the office. It’s the little things that you do and say that makes them feel like you are proud to have them as customers. In a way, it’s thanking them for choosing you.”