How many years have you been going to the same hair stylist? 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? If you’ve been going to the same stylist for 3 years or longer, allow me to ask—why?
In all likelihood, it’s not just because they know your hair style preference. Yes. That is important. But its not the only reason. Its also because you have developed a strong relationship—an impenetrable connection if you will—with your stylist.
Think back to your first visit to your long-time stylist. At the moment you sat in their chair, they started building a relationship with you, asking questions far beyond your preferences in hair style. Chances are they asked about your significant other, your kids, your hobbies or what you’ve been binge watching on Netflix.
By the 4th or 5th visit to your stylist they have a pretty good grip on your life history and know many of the things your loved ones do to annoy you and the things they do to make you love them even more. And, chances are, you’ve gotten to know them as well as they have gotten to know you.
Relationships of mutual trust, respect and loyalty are the foundation of amazing, “WOW!” customer experiences. Those relationships make customers like you feel valued, special, important, as though the experience your enjoying was created solely with you in mind. It’s not only a relationship you’d be hard pressed to give up, even if it means saving a few bucks. It’s a relationship you treasure and enthusiastically share with family and friends who may also be in search of a stylist and want to enjoy the same experience as you.
Does every stylist deliver this same “WOW!“ level of customer experience? No. But those who do, excel by setting themselves apart from the competition and always being a cut above the rest. They focus as much on the detail and quality of their work as they do on the detail and quality of the relationship they have with their customers.
As a business owner, there are 3, valuable lessons you can learn from your stylist about building relationships.
Lesson 1. Relationship building begins with the very first conversation you have with your customers. How much time do you invest in getting to know your customers when you meet them for the very first time? It can be something as simple as “Tell me about yourself.“ Your function as a business isn’t to close transactions, it’s to build strong, lasting relationships. Those relationships are ultimately what power your business.
Besides, it’s part of our make up as humans to enjoy talking about ourselves. As a matter of fact, research conducted by a bunch of Harvard neuroscientists found that when we are asked to talk about ourselves, it stimulates the same signals of pleasure in the brain as food and money. The research also concludes that we actually talk about ourselves 40% of the time. Think about it. How many times have you ever recoiled when someone has asked you to share something about yourself?
Don’t be afraid to engage in a conversation with your customers. It’s not only a great relationship starter, its an indication that you care about them as something more than just a transaction.
Lesson 2. The fastest way to a base of high-spending, loyal, raving customers is to demonstrate that you care about them as more than a transaction. Relationships are so valuable in business today that a recent study by the Gartner Research Group found that 89% of companies say they are now competing primarily on the basis of customer experience. That number is huuuge. Its so huuuge that it actually defines customer experience as a brand in and of itself.
The results of this study also means that the relationship you have with your customers is more important than the product or service you sell. In other words, people are investing more in the relationship they have with you than in your stuff. That stuff is nothing more than a prop to engage your customers.
The good news, though, is just like your stylist, as a small business owner you have an advantage over large corporations. You can connect more easily one-on-one with your customers and strengthen those relationships more quickly and nurture them far longer. And, like the relationship you have with your stylist, your customers would be hard pressed to leave you for the competition—even if it means saving money.
Keep in mind that customers will leave a business for any number of reasons. Feeling like the company didn’t care about them is almost always at the top of that list.
Lesson 3. Your goal is to not to “WOW!“ just one customer. The goal is to “WOW!“ an army of loyal, raving customers who will bring even more customers marching to your door. That’s the beauty of being consistent in the delivery of amazing experiences. The relationship your stylist has with you is not solely for the purpose of making you feel valued, special and important. He or she is relying on you raving about that experience, that relationship with everyone you know so they, too, may become loyal customers who will rave about the experience to others. It’s like the circle of life—but for growing a business. And, your business can enjoy that same, perpetual cycle if you are consistent in your experience delivery. .
Although on-line reviews are an important decision making factor for some buyers, word of mouth referrals from trusted friends and family members still remains key for a great number of consumers. In other words, you can have thousands of 5-star, online reviews but those are far outweighed by the trusted referral from one friend to another.
Next time you visit your stylist, pay closer attention to the interaction you have with that professional and how they make you feel. Think about why you’ve remained a loyal customer for so long and how many others you’ve told about your stylist. Then double his or her usual tip and thank them for motivating you to elevate your own business a cut above your competition.
As always, I welcome your questions and feedback. Feel free to reach out to me through the email address that follows.
Learn to speak fluent “WOW!”—the language of high-paying customers who will also become your most loyal, raving fans. Contact Ron to speak at your upcoming event or to provide a special, Customer Experience training session for you and your team – email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (816) 224-4487.
“Ron’s presentations are full of the kind of energy and enthusiasm that keeps audience engaged and wanting more. And, his inspiring, imaginative and creative ideas for helping business owners and their teams ‘WOW!” their customers and remain top of mind, makes him a highlight of every conference.” – Rick Brewer, WeddingBusinessMarketing.com
“Ron Ruth has been an industry advocate and trainer for small business owners with our training team for nearly 10 years. Ron has shown a great grasp of understanding what it takes to move a business to the next level with engaging sales approaches, creativity, and customized outcomes based on the clients. ” – John Young, Publisher, Disc Jockey News