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Amy Newman Brown of Soke Beauty On How to Build Lasting Customer Relationships

Listen more; talk less is the best way to support the needs of your customer. People will express what they need if you offer the space for them to communicate. We empower our team to make decisions that support the needs of the customer. For example, if a team member felt it was appropriate to offer a customer a discount, they know I will not question their decision. If you want each individual customer to feel supported, you must provide the equal support to your team.

Building lasting customer relationships has many benefits, including increased revenue, positive word-of-mouth recommendations, and saving on acquisition costs. But how does one do this? In this interview series, we are talking to Product Managers, founders, and authors who can share their “Five Tips For Building Lasting Customer Relationships”. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Newman Brown.

Amy Newman Brown is the Founder of Soke Beauty, an innovative line of hydrogel treatment masks for commonly neglected areas of the body. For the last 15 years, Amy has worked as the Aesthetic Director for one of North America’s leading plastic surgeons. Prior to that, Amy worked in retail management and real estate sales.

As the Aesthetic Director, one of my roles is to ensure that our patients are offered the best and the latest in non-invasive treatments, skincare and injectables. I have tried countless skin care products, treatments and facial techniques which is a large part of my job. I believe in pro-aging; while we cannot stop the clock, we all have a say in how we want to age. I noticed that a lot of patients wanted to improve and maintain their results post treatment and the common areas of concern were around the eyes, decolletage and neck. Treatments can be expensive and time consuming; I knew there had to be a better and less time-consuming way to treat those areas of the body. We are all busy and when we do not have the time for an in-office treatment, we need something that can be used at home that offers the bonus of clinical results in 30 minutes or less. After three years of research and trials, I found something that worked — medical grade ingredients combined with hydrogel infused with a multi-peptide complex to create a home treatment for women on the go, now known as SOKE.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that has occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or takeaway you took from that story?

This story always makes me smile and reflect on my younger years. I must have had an early entrepreneurial spirit. I was probably 9 years old and wanted to have a weekend Kool-Aid stand. My Kool-Aid stand was going to be different; with every cup of Kool-Aid, I would offer a piece of penny candy (candy used to be 1 cent) and that would seal the sale. I borrowed 25 cents from my father and biked to the store, came home mixed up the Kool aid and opened for business. At the end of the day, I came inside and was so excited to tell my father I had made $1.20! My father looked at me and said “you borrowed 25 cents to buy the candy; the Kool-Aid mix had a cost, the water and the cups had a cost. You did not make a $1.20 — you only made 65 cents, and that is your first lesson on the difference between gross and net sales.” Some reading this may think that was a tough lesson for a 9-year-old. I think it was a wonderful introduction to business!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, I am continually thinking of new opportunities for Soke to expand our line of treatments and to collaborate with other skin care brands. Today there are so many Indie Beauty brands, it would be helpful for all of us to collaborate and share our ups and downs. Indie Beauty is a wonderful community of new founders with so much to offer.

For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit about your experience with building lasting customer relationships? Can you share an anecdote or two that illustrates your experience in this area?

Most of my work experience has been customer facing and/or working with a team that is customer facing. In retail management, you and your team together must build a strong customer relationship from the minute a person walks into your store until they leave. If you have provided consistent and exceptional customer service, the customer returns. That is always where you want to shine and take a moment to ensure the customer feels valued and remembered. In the beauty sphere, people often come to see their aesthetician before a meaningful event or time. We try to make a small note in the customer profile so we remember to ask how the event was. This one small gesture can make a difference in building long lasting customer relationships.

In today’s fast-paced and constantly evolving landscape, what strategies do you employ to maintain a strong connection with your customers and anticipate their changing needs?

Social media has been at the core of our company’s strategy to both connect with our consumers as well as to hear their feedback. With targeted email messaging, we keep our customers up to date with exciting news, company changes, and product updates. These emails not only allow us to share what we want, but also provide an outlet for customer needs by sending out email surveys or simply reminding them that our ears are always open. At Soke, we strongly believe in the power of connection with our customers, and their needs are always at the top of our priority list.

Can you discuss the strategies that companies can employ to strike a balance between driving revenue and profitability, and focusing on building customer relationships and loyalty?

The first strategy is to focus on the customer relationship. That in itself will drive revenue and profitability. There is always more than one “customer” in a business. For example, the team you work with is a customer and its members must first trust one another, be able to offer feedback and suggestions and feel empowered to resolve issues on their own to provide the best experience to your primary customer. A cohesive sales team is one of the best strategies that I know of.

Could you describe the metrics and measures you use to evaluate the success of your customer relationship-building efforts, and how you identify areas for improvement?

Surveying our customer or requesting feedback is primary. Customers will offer their opinions if asked. The customer voice is incredibly important for any company. Of course, one of the most obvious measurements is the repeat customer and how often they continue to purchase or return to your business site (virtual or brick and mortar). Social media engagement, email open rates, click through rates can help identify areas for improvement. Negative feedback will quickly let you know where to make improvements.

Regarding customer-facing teams, what steps do you take to ensure they can deliver personalized, proactive, and efficient support, tailored to the needs of each individual customer?

Listen more; talk less is the best way to support the needs of your customer. People will express what they need if you offer the space for them to communicate. We empower our team to make decisions that support the needs of the customer. For example, if a team member felt it was appropriate to offer a customer a discount, they know I will not question their decision. If you want each individual customer to feel supported, you must provide the equal support to your team.

What tips do you have for responding to negative feedback from customers, and what steps can be taken to turn those experiences into positive outcomes?

If the customer is not physically in person then my first tip is always to respond by phone when possible. We often request a phone number by email first and then reach out to allow the customer the opportunity to express the issue and feel heard and understood. An email may not convey the full intent and tone of the message. In today’s busy world, phone communication still works and is a very personal touch.

I love feedback whether it is positive or negative. If a customer wants to offer feedback, I know they are engaged with my business. Negative feedback is positive in a backward way; when someone has expressed an issue that you may have not noticed, you can have the opportunity to fix the problem before it becomes a significant issue! If you look at negative feedback as an opportunity to grow and improve your business — what could be more positive than that!

Lastly, how do you use technology or AI to enhance your customer relationships, and what tools have you found to be most effective in building and maintaining them?

We have not yet used AI to enhance our customer relationships. Social media and email marketing have been wonderful tools for the customer to interact and engage with our brand. Comments are always welcome on our posts. We have forms on our website for customers to ask questions or even make a comment. Customers want a quick response and today’s technology allows us to ensure we answer them quickly. Forms are sent to an inbox that is flagged so we know to check.

Here is the main question of our interview. In your experience, what are five key components of building lasting customer relationships? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

The 5 pillars of building lasting customer relationships:

  1. Effective and consistent communication is crucial to your business and your team. I believe that maintaining open lines with both your customer and your customer facing team is vital. It is important to check in with your team daily, not only about work but how they are doing personally; and foster an environment that encourages dialogue and welcomes input.
  2. Welcome feedback on aspects of your business even if it is negative or you question the validity. Customers want a relationship and want to feel valued. Who better to help you understand the customer journey than the customer themselves.
  3. All business models have a customer. The customer is most valuable to your business and should feel as such. The customer voice matters; when they have something to say…..LISTEN!
  4. The customer relationship that exists within your supply chain is also important. If I send an email to a supplier and receive a vacation notification, I remember to ask how their holiday was or if they had a restful vacation. Paying close to attention to small details can have a lot of significance in maintaining a relationship.
  5. Exceptional customer service with attention to the detail will build a long-lasting relationship with your customer.

How do you ensure that these ideas are implemented throughout the customer journey?

We ensure that all of these ideas are thoroughly implemented into our customer’s experience by reviewing their written feedback attentively, creating policies and daily communication amongst the team members, and actively incorporating changes that we feel represent customer needs. The customer journey as the company grows may look differently a week from now or six months from now. Not only do we accept feedback, but we welcome it.

We are nearly done. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger 🙂

I am a mother of three adult children and I have been a foster mom for over 12 years. I am committed to uplifting and supporting young mothers in need through fundraising and direct outreach. We donate a percentage of our net proceeds to organizations in our community that uphold these principles so we can make a difference in the lives of young moms and their children.

Source: Medium