Bec McFarlandHave you ever thought about how you could tweak your product or service to make it more attractive to a wider range of customers, users or referrers?  The larger the pool of potential customers with the means, opportunity and motivation to purchase from you, the more opportunities for sales for your business. Offering the best experience for all users regardless of their age, ability or background will not only improve sales but also customer loyalty and reputation.

Human diversity impacts experiences

Satisfied customers are loyal customers and a great source of positive word-of-mouth. Every customer wants to feel like your most valued customer.
Pop Your Career is a career coaching business founded by Bec McFarland. This local company celebrates human diversity and goes out of its way to make things easier for clients to have a positive experience, including those with unseen disabilities such as anxiety and depression.
“I actually have anxiety myself and having that awareness really does give me the ability to understand what my clients are experiencing and also to be able to better support them,” says Bec.
Bec has found some little tweaks to her programs can really improve the experience for everyone, whether its introverts or clients with anxiety.
“When we're running workshops, I encourage people to share as much or as little as they want. Sharing is definitely not mandatory and if somebody says that they don't want to then that's totally fine.
“I also make myself available in different ways. Whilst the COVID lockdown was happening and we were doing a lot of our meetings over Zoom, participants in the workshops did have the option to private message me through the chat box if they had questions that they wanted to ask. That way the questions could be answered anonymously. With in-person workshops, I always offer the opportunity for people to be able to contact me after the workshop. I hand out my business cards and just let people know that if they do have questions, or there's anything that they wanted to follow up with, or they want feedback on something, then they're always welcome to get in touch with me outside of the group.”

Measuring Return on Investment

Every little tweak to a program should be evaluated to determine whether it was successful both immediately and in the long-term. Success can include both economic results in terms of increase in sales or decrease in expenses, or intangible results such as improved reputation or positive customer word-of-mouth.
According to Bec, while some of the tweaks she makes to her programs do take a little bit of extra work for her, she believes it's worth it to ensure that everybody gets what they need from the workshops and it has helped her business to grow.
“I do enjoy the opportunity to build relationships with people,” says Bec.
“One of the things I really pride myself on is over-servicing my clients, I love the surprise and delight factor. I'm often asked where I think the success of my business has really come from and I think the bulk of my success has come from the fact that I do over service my clients. And because I do that, I don't often have time to do a lot of networking. But my clients are actually out there networking on my behalf. They're going to events and mentioning me or discussing the programs that I've got running. They spruik my services constantly. They literally are members of my marketing team”.

Overcoming problems

Taking into account human diversity also allows you to head off problems before they happen.
“One of the things that I've been doing recently is I've partnered with a couple of organisations to run a range of career skills workshops within the LGBTQi+ community, both with adults and with youth. A large portion of this group actually experience mental health issues and anxiety is something that's quite prevalent,” says Bec.

“There are a few things that I was able to do to support people a little bit more. With participants who have ADHD and have difficulty concentrating, I was very mindful to keep the workshops as entertaining, engaging and collaborative as possible. But to also allow for movement breaks throughout the session so that if they did need to burn off some extra energy they could go for a quick walk.

“I'm also really focused on understanding different learning styles, and then providing resources and lessons in the format that's going to best suit the client. If somebody is quite visual and they learn best through video, then I will look for resources for them that are in video format. If they are more auditory, I give them podcasts. If someone is more detail-oriented and prefers to read articles or books, I can cater for that too.

“A question that I ask as a standard with all of my one-to-one clients, is how they would prefer to receive the information that I'm providing them. I give people the option to either meet me in person or via Zoom or via telephone. And that gives them the flexibility to decide what actually feels most comfortable for them. I've got a range of clients who prefer that face-to-face interaction whereas some actually feel a lot more comfortable divulging information and being vulnerable over the telephone where we can't see each other”.

Catering for diversity can lead to product innovations

One of the keys to innovation in a company is the ability to observe changes in customer preferences and to anticipate trends. Having a close relationship with customers is vital for this.
“One thing that I really love about my clients is that they are usually willing to experiment with me. A lot of that has to do with the relationship that I have built with them. To be able to try different things and see what works but also to be really comfortable about saying something doesn't work. I say to people, give it a try and then if you don't like it, we'll scrap it and try something else. This gives me the opportunity to think outside the square and see what works and what doesn't work. And then I can use those learnings with other clients”.
Bec describes how being flexible and adjusting techniques to accommodate clients can be effective in helping clients overcome pre-interview jitters.
“When it comes to helping clients to implement techniques to calm their nerves prior to interview, we spend quite a bit of time looking at mindset and how they can use some of those techniques to ground themselves before an interview so that they are going into the interview in the right headspace. I use a range of different techniques, some that are more traditional and others tend to be a little bit more alternative.
“I select a technique based on what I think would be most appropriate for the client. And I also give them the option to experiment with different techniques as well. I think sometimes in doing that it's actually a really beautiful way of being able to support clients in showing courage to try some of these techniques for the first time and step outside of their comfort zone”.

Developing loyal customers

Quality and price are not enough to ensure loyal customers. If a cheaper service or something with more bells and whistles comes along, customers will move. A real understanding of the customer and an ongoing dialogue lay the foundations for customer loyalty.
“I've got a really flexible cancellation policy and I know that this is something that's quite unusual,” says Bec.
“In my terms and conditions, I do state that people have to give me so many hours’ notice, but informally, I always say to every new client that it is very important to me that they are in the right headspace when they meet with me. If they wake up in the morning and they find that they are having a bad day or feeling particularly anxious or they're busy with work; I'm quite open to them cancelling.
“It's important for me to know that when we're in the coaching room together, that they really want to be there, and that they're really in the right headspace to be there. I had one client who rocked up to a meeting with me, and I could tell immediately that she was not in a good place. She was very, very stressed, very overwhelmed by what was going on at work. And I asked her a couple of questions and found that she really couldn't afford the hour and a half to sit and spend with me at a coaching session and I think that was stressing her out even more. So, in that instance, I bought her a milkshake and I sent her back to work. I had another client who came to an appointment with me and was visibly upset. We had a bit of a chat about the problem she was experiencing, I offered her some tools and resources to be able to work through and then I sent her to go and spend the rest of our session in the sunshine, having some time to relax.”
“I know that it's not conventional and I know that there would be a lot of business owners out there that would tell me that I'm doing the wrong thing, but I never look at that as being wasted time. It really adds to the relationship that I'm able to build with my clients”.

Universal Design