Your customers’ first experience of you

In my previous post, I wrote about the “Starbucking” frame of mind and how we tutors can move away from being a commodity and towards offering an experience to our students.

What kind of experiences do we want the parents of our students to have?

Caring. Experienced, Professional. Knowledgeable. Ethical. Right?

No doubt, these are qualities parents look for in a tutor. We certainly give good impressions and builds trust when we show these qualities in our interaction. But I want to talk about the experience we give to parents. It’s not the same as giving a sterling credential. I’ll illustrate my point with my personal experience.

When I just started to sell classes for a tuition centre I worked for, I focused on talking about how many years of history we had, our track record, the credentials of our teachers and our unique curriculum.

Until I quickly discovered that these did not work very well.

You see, enquiring parents did not call to hear how impressive we are. They called to solve their children’s learning problem – which was also their problem. Talking about us was important, but that could come later. First and foremost, rapport is formed by showing the parents that we want to understand.

I learnt that I should always start by listening intently and asking questions like:

“Thanks for contacting us. What can we do for you?”

“Can you share with me how is your child doing in school?”

“Have your child had tuition before? What worked and what didn’t work about the previous tuition experience?”

“What are your expectations from us?”

There are so many ways we can ask good questions. I share what questions I usually use, but I’m pretty sure you can come up with better ones when you start thinking and asking. The point is, good questions open the floodgates on the parents side. My experience is that parents have so many things to say about their children. Our job, after asking these questions, is just to listen and take notes.

The two approaches creates a helluva difference in customer experience.

The first approach is me-centric: I’m highly qualified in this. I have such and such marvellous program to offer. I am so good. Trust me. Choose me.

The second approach is you-centric. How is your child doing? How can we help you? What are you looking for? What is on your mind? Tell me. I want to help you.

Imagine walking into Starbucks and seeing the baristas yelling at the top of their voices, promoting their Special Brew of the Day. Their limited edition souvenir. About how they opened another new outlet somewhere…. When they have finally finished with their pitching, then you finally get to tell them your orders. Unthinkable, right? Yet, that was effectively what I did at first. Luckily I switched to the second approach after not too long.

(End of Part 2)

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