When it comes down to it, we all want to be heard. Truly being heard is worth more to a customer than any number of slick sales pitches or discount codes, so why do so many of us lose sight of the value of listening in the day-to-day running of our businesses?

Being able to really listen to your customers gives you the ability to provide the highest levels of service, which not only improves the reputation of your business, but also creates customer loyalty—so crucial for small, start-up operations.

In my business Feather Brow Couture, I deal with people from all walks of life—including those who may have lost their eyebrows to cancer or through alopecia. Sensitivity and empathy are vital, and the key to the strong rapport I have with my customers is a business model that champions the personal.

I take time to build rapport with my 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 the goals I set are realistic to allow space for this one-on-one time.

Prior to foundingmy business, 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.

So, how do we ensure we are really connecting with our customers?

  • 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.

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.