How marketing a service is a little bit different
Marketing a service is a little bit different from marketing a tangible product and Fiona from Croydon business Alison Lawson Centre Victoria dropped into BizHub to share her experiences.
You are the business
With a service-based business, the owner of the business is usually the one with the skills and reputation that are being "sold". How you portray yourself can make or break a business - you need to be honest, reliable and have good response times. Customers often ask for you personally, which can be a challenge if you are already booked to see other customers, and have limited time to see them.
Staff are your people
To expand your business and to have more time to see customers you will need to employ staff and/or delegate tasks. Until this point, you have been in control of the customer interaction and it has been your reputation that customers have sought.
New staff will need to be chosen very carefully so that they fit the business and portray the image required. In a sense they will become the 'new you' and you should be happy that your regular customers can see them as an alternate when you are busy.
Look for staff with the characteristics of the business including ethos, approachability and in my business's instance - can cope and empathise with the client's emotions and situation.
Make it tangible
As most services are intangible - meaning you don't walk out holding something - you need to make your service tangle, so that the customer feels that they are getting something.
This may include a brochure of the services that you offer, a customer service kit or booklets.
Whatever you see during the service is also very important - so you must have professional looking offices and staff.
Everything mentioned can assist build a positive image of your business.
As there are many variables in delivering a service - the person giving the service, the customer and even on how people are feeling on the day - developing processes surrounding the customer journey will assist to create repeatable experiences.
A rough outline of the customer experience at Alison Lawson Centre Victoria is:
- In the initial customer enquiry a mini phone survey is undertaken. How did they hear about our business? What is their problem? Can we actually help them? We don't want to get their hopes up or for them to waste their money on a treatment that may not assist them.
- Send out a questionnaire to clarify the situation.
- We make an appointment and perform an initial assessment - written report.
- Perform treatment over 10 sessions - with regular milestone during this period.
- We write a final report and include an online feedback form.
Customer feedback forms
The customer's feedback is integral to our business and it is a good way for service-based businesses to assess how they are going.
It helps us improve internal processes, staff training and treatment.
It can also be used (with the customer's approval) as testimonials for promotional purposes.
With every enquiry we ask "how did they hear about us?"
From all of our promotion activities - word-of-mouth - always gets the biggest results.
Our website and school newsletters also get good results.
We have integrated an enquiry form into our website which has been a non-confrontational way that customers can contact us to get a bit of information if they don't want to speak to us yet. We can then follow up on these enquiries.
Client privacy is essential in our business and we have to abide by the Privacy Act as we handle sensitive patient information. We have processes in place on how we handle their information.
Patients often have estranged parents/families so we need to be careful which family member gets updates and have strict protocols in place to deal with these situations.
Meet the Business
Alison Lawson Centre Victoria assists people (young and old) who have learning difficulties such as Dyslexia.
Alison Lawson worked in the area of Orthoptics since 1953 and during her career specialised in kid's learning difficulties. After much scientific research she uncovered a solution for Dyslexia and patented a machine in 1979 to assist in its treatment.
Fiona Summons was specially trained by Alison Lawson and in 2007 brought this ground-breaking treatment to Victoria.
Visit The Alison Lawson Centre Victoria for further information about how they assist people with learning difficulties.