I saw an osteopath for the first time in the mid-1990s. Even though it was more than 20 years ago, I still remember feeling amazed that he was bothering to spend so much time finding out about my general well-being.
Not just about my specific back pain, but about my lifestyle. What I found rewarding at work. What I did in my time off to recharge my batteries. How I felt about life at the moment.
It went beyond the normal NHS form of allergy and operation checks. And it went well beyond the specific pain point I had approached him for.
In business terms, you could describe holistic healthcare as a ‘full service’ approach. Seeing things in the round, on behalf of your customers.
The outcome for me as a client was that I felt I mattered as a human being. I was more than a case of lower back pain. More than a one-off problem that needed sorting and, once sorted, our conversation was over.
Because I felt I mattered I thought, ‘I am definitely going back’. So I did, for at least 10 years, before I moved out of the area.
Look at your clients holistically
I don’t think my osteopath’s comprehensive questioning amounted to a crafty sales tactic. He was just doing his holistic job. Getting a picture of my life in the round, so he could help me pre-empt health problems – problems which had nothing to do with my original back ‘pain point’.
The beauty of this holistic approach was that it not only offered me a great service. It also made business sense to my osteopath. I came back, again and again. Repeat business that benefited him and me. It meant he gained a loyal client and, 20 years later, I haven’t seized up physically.
What prompted this memory was Alex Barr (pictured above), founder of Third Bounce. He works alongside professional services firms, helping them to see themselves, and what they offer, in a more holistic way. He does this so that they can increase their revenue streams by offering customers a more rounded service.
Don’t be shy
This approach applies to any business built on specialist expertise, from accountancy and financial services to IT consultancies. For the sake of argument, I’ll focus on legal firms. Most of them have a range of departments. Taken as a whole, these departments have the ability to sort out the small print of every milestone, and hiccup, in your life: from trusts and partnership arrangements to personal injury, probate and succession planning.
Like my osteopath, they have the potential to offer a holistic service to every client they see – if they take the time to ask questions that go beyond the specific pain point that brought that client to them in the first place. Alex:
“So if you moved house, the idea that you would walk out of the law firm that did the conveyancing for you, and they didn’t talk to you about your will, or they didn’t ask you what you did – ‘Oh, you run a business. That’s really interesting. Tell me more’– that idea is mad.”
Take the time to chat
Alex has noticed that very few lawyers ask their clients to ‘tell them more’.
This reticence affects other professional services too. Perhaps they shy away from asking, because they didn’t train to be salespeople. But for Alex, it’s not about sales; it’s about service.
So if you’re a lawyer and you’ve built a rapport with your client by doing a good conveyancing job, your client is likely to see the ‘tell me more’ invitation as proof that you, and your colleagues, care about their longer-term legal well-being. Better holistic service, not brazen selling:
“And the financial outcome of offering a better service is amazing. As a rule of thumb, if someone buys more than one thing from your firm, they stay with you three times as long and spend twice as much. They also like you more; they are more than seven times less likely to complain to your ombudsman about your firm.”
Go beyond the original pain
Think about it. If you spent just 10 minutes talking to existing clients about other things going on in their life, your firm could help them so much more.
If you don’t, they could be walking away with other legal ailments. These ailments might be symptom-less now, but could grow into major pain points later on.
- No written will, perhaps?
- No partnership contract?
- No succession planning?
Offer a more holistic service and the client you’ve got to know won’t seize up in the next two decades. According to Alex, they’ll thank you for it. Then they’ll do wonders for your firm’s reputation and bottom line.
Not sure where to start?
Twitchy about picking up the phone and having that holistic conversation with a client? Call Alex instead. He’s happy to have a chat on 01256 637 936 and give you pointers on how to do it.
He’s also written a number of articles to help you, including:
When the client winces…price and how to hug a haggler.
Learning to love referrals in a law firm
Fear, fees and loathing in legal services
And finally, if you still think ‘selling’ is a dirty word…
I feel your pain.
Before I started my business I worked for the BBC. And, as you have probably noticed, if a guest is over-plugging their company, the presenter will try to counter the unsolicited ‘advertising’ by reminding the audience that there are other ‘good brands on the high street’.
That is why I found it very difficult to promote myself for the first few years. Every time I opened my mouth to tell other businesses what I did, this sentence would flash up in my mind: ‘BUT THERE OTHER BUSINESSES DOWN THE ROAD THAT ARE MUCH BETTER THAN MIRANDA BIRCH MEDIA’.
Then, over time, I realised that if I swapped the word ‘selling’ for the word ‘helping’, I got over my BBC hang-ups.
I’ve written about this in my email series, Pick My Brain. It helps business owners to think, write and talk about their companies in new ways. You can join the reader’s list here. It’s a three minute read every Thursday and goes very well with a cup of coffee. (So I’m told.)