Today we are talking about customer intimacy, your unfair advantage when it comes to winning more customers.
And to dive into the topic, I chatted with Simone Vincenzi, a TEDx speaker, and co-founder of GTex, a personal development community that helps their clients achieve rapid and sustainable business results.
We can learn a ton from Simone, in particular the many benefits that come from treating your customers like friends.
- How to make decisions that lead to remarkable customer experiences
- Why you should treat your customers like friends
- The benefits of developing a deep degree of customer intimacy
- Wheat to do with the insights you get about your customers
- How to develop lasting, emotional relationships with your customers
- How to make it up to your clients when you make a mistake (and foster a greater degree of loyalty)
- How to build a company culture where everyone on your team has a deep degree of customer intimacy
Listen to the 29-minute episode here:
Read a transcript of the episode here:
How to make decisions that are in the best interest of both your business and your customers
Sonia Thompson: Hello, Simone. Thank you so much for joining me today. How are you?
Simone Vincenzi: I’m incredibly well, Sonia. How are you doing?
Sonia: I’m doing great. All right. Since we’re both doing well, let’s go ahead and dive right in. Tell me about your business GTeX.
Simone: Absolutely, Sonia. We work with experts and we turn them into authorities. If someone has an expertise and runs a business by selling, or delivering that expertise, and want to step out in the spotlight, they want to get more media appearances, they want to get more clients, they want to scale the business, then we work with them and help achieve all the above, all that I said.
Sonia: Got it.
Simone: We are based in London. We started 5 years ago because I had an expertise. I was studying life coaching for many years, and I was very passionate about that. But I was making no money-
Simone: And I was like, I could be the best coach in the world, and if no one knows about me, and if no one is aware of what can I offer, then how the heck am I supposed to grow the business?
Sonia: Right, totally hear you. So, what is a specific problem that you solve for the people you serve? I imagine it might be similar to what you just mentioned and it’s a problem that a lot of people, entrepreneurs in particular, have.
Simone: Yeah, the biggest problem I solve is, “I’m out there, how do I get known?”
Simone: Right? I have this thing that I’m really great at, how do I get more people to hear about it? And, not just to hear about it, but to buy from me?
Simone: Because I remember I had a client, she had a huge following-
Simone: Huge following. All the people trusted her, but she was making no money because she had no conversion there.
Simone: So, I think it’s important to establish yourself out there, but also, how do you convert and turn these people that are following you into customers?
Sonia: Got it.
Simone: So, this is the two biggest thing that we deliver to our clients.
Sonia: Got it. Why do your clients choose you to help them solve that problem? Because like I said, a lot of people have this. There are probably a couple of different types of businesses who offer-
Sonia: This kind of service. Why do they choose you?
Simone: Of course. Well, there are a few reasons why they choose me and GTeX. First of all, because they have fun.
Simone: No one wants to work with someone who is boring. That’s one of the reasons why people work with us, because they have a lot of fun while they’re growing their businesses. Fun is a huge element of us.
The second reason is that we make things simple. I found that a lot of people who do what I do. They create incredibly complex strategies that then takes months to implement, sometimes years, or they cost a lot of money to execute. We make it simple for our client. You’re looking at, do this one thing right now, and just keep focusing on that.
Sonia: Got it.
Simone: We find the zone of genius of our clients and we make sure that they are focused on them while they’re building all the other areas of the business alongside with it because we see the business as a conglomerate, as a holistic thing. It’s not just one area. A business functions because it’s like a body. You have all the organs. If your liver doesn’t work well, you have problems. Right?
Simone: If your marketing doesn’t work well, you have problems. You might not be great at converting but suck at marketing.
Simone: That’s the second reason. The other reason is the community aspect. GTeX stands for “growing together exponentially”-
Sonia: Oh, okay.
Simone: Yeah, that’s the name. It’s not a tech company. A lot of people say, “Is it a tech company?” No. It is not a tech company. But the aspect of togetherness, doing things together and neutral support is crucial because as experts we tend to spend a lot of time by ourself.
Simone: We might run a small business with a small team, sometimes no team at all, and it’s a very isolating experience. I found that when people do things together, they get more done and they have more fun at the same time. Then their business will foster-
Simone: These are the reasons why we had more than 300 people in London that decided to be a part of our community.
Sonia: Very cool. That accountability goes a long way. I think people feel like as they’re running their business that they don’t necessarily need accountability because they’re driven but sometimes it just does something to you to make you do the things that you might not have been willing to do or to step out a bit farther outside of your comfort zone than you might have been willing to do previously.
Simone: Absolutely, we do. 100%.
Sonia: All right. What does a remarkable customer experience mean to you? How do you incorporate that into what you do at GTeX?
Simone: Yeah, absolutely. Remarkable customer experience for me means to have the customer first. To have the customer dictate every decision you make in the business. Every decision we make is tailored for our high-earned client, our lifetime members.
Simone: We always ask ourself the question, “How does this decision in the company going to serve them in the long term?”
Simone: Because at the end of the day, we can make all these decisions within the company, but the people that are seeing the effect of these decisions-
Simone: Are the clients.
Why treating your customers like friends helps you deliver a remarkable customer experience
Simone: We want to make sure that they are listened first. That’s what I think remarkable customer experience is. Also, there is one more thing. I think that remarkable customer experience is when you create such level of repertoire with your client that they become like your friends–
Simone: At that point, it’s like something magical happens. There is a level of trust, integrity and honesty. They tell you the things that you don’t want to hear, which is important because it’s better that they tell you than they don’t tell you and go to someone else.
Sonia: For sure.
Simone: They tell you the things that you don’t want to hear and they have the trust in you that you’re going to do something about it. Also, you can tell them the things they don’t want to hear. It becomes a partnership, rather than a work of clients and business. I did my TEDx talk. It was called “Sleeping With Your Clients“.
Simone: That’s the title of my TEDx talk because I did a social experiment where … Disclaimer: I never slept with any of my clients. I did a social experiment where me and my business partner lived with a period of 12 or 18 months-
Simone: With some of our clients together.
Simone: So we had the GTeX house. It was to see how can we bring the experience of our customers to a whole new level? What happened if we actually lived with them?
Simone: And it was a great learning experience, I have to say.
Sonia: I want to learn more about this though, because like you said, you’re treating your customers like friends but I feel like customer intimacy is your unfair advantage in serving your customers, delivering remarkable experiences for them, giving them products and services that fit their needs like a glove. What were the key things that you picked up from actually living with them and having such close interaction with them over such a long period of time?
Simone: It helped us in terms of understanding the client.
Simone: It helped us see what they’re doing behind the scene. When you’re having a conversation or a consultation, you imagine how the life of your client is. Then you do your best to align your product or service-
Simone: To their current lifestyle so then it’s easier for them to buy.
Simone: But every year we have this level of details to see what are they saying, what are they thinking, what kinds of conversations are they having? I know it sounds creepy, but it didn’t start as a way to do this kind of market research. It started as a way to build a relationship, but that was part of it.
Simone: I was learning about what did they want, what did they don’t want. The moments they were working up until four o’clock in the morning and they were banging their head against the wall, metaphorically not physically-
Simone: Because they couldn’t build a website page because they were just starting out. Or the moment where they were having a sales call with one of their prospects and the person didn’t buy. It helped me really understand what’s their life like-
Simone: So that I could make a better product or service for them.
Simone: That’s the one thing.
Sonia: I know you said you’re living together so I know there’s probably a combination of conversations and observation because over that period of time nobody’s able to fake it for that long or tell you what they think. You’re able to see it and experience it directly, huh?
Simone: Exactly. The same goes for us. When you are, in particular, in the field where I’m in is a field which is hugely based on appearance. You need to appear and look successful all the time. You need to have a good suit.
Simone: You’re running all the seminars and running all the webinars. There is an element of that, but then when you are behind closed doors, then they see you as the person that also you are behind closed doors.
Simone: They see when you have the moments where the business is not going well, how do you deal with that? They see you when you have your family problems because we all have a family. I’ve never seen any family which is like the family. There is always some glitch that happens-
Simone: So how do you deal with … And they see you day in and day out. What I found that was magical, they didn’t judge me or my business partner for who we are but they embraced us even more. That helped us be even more genuine even on the front end because I think, like I said, there is a lot of fakeness in some of the industries where I’m operating in. What people are looking for is someone who is just saying things as they are.
Simone: We’re all human. We’re not perfect. We have our ups and downs. We have our mood swings. There is power in showing this to our clients. There is power in showing that.
What to do with the insights you gain about your customers
Sonia: There is, for sure. How did you adjust what you were doing, your marketing, what you were building for them? I know you said it impacted you tremendously but did you wait for a certain period of time? Did you adjust as you were going along and learning more things? If you had to do the experiment again, how long do you feel like you would need to do it to be able to get those kinds of insights?
Simone: Yeah, absolutely. It was adjusting as going along. I’m an action-taker. I’m not a kind of person that waits on an idea. That’s a curse and a blessing at the same time-
Simone: But that’s how I am. So, it was a constant work in progress. The more we were learning about them, the more we were improving our services. Also, they were part of the improvement we were literally asking them over a glass of beer, “Hey, what do you think about this new course you are doing?”
Simone: It was the best way to do market research ever while building close friendships. If I were to do this again, I probably would not do it for such a long period of time.
Simone: Also, it depends the period of my life I was in. Right now, I’m married. When I did that, I was living with my business partner. We got a bunch of people in. I couldn’t do that with my wife right now.
Simone: So I don’t know. If I had to do it again, with the situation where I was three years ago when that happened, before I moved in with my fiance and then wife, then probably a year would have been enough.
Simone: Six months to a year.
Sonia: All right.
Simone: I would have rotating people-
Sonia: Got it.
Simone: So I can experience even more people to live with and that’s what I would do different.
Sonia: Got it. No, I think that’s cool. I think that just underscores the point that you’re never done getting to know your customers. There’s always so much more to learn. If you approach it as a friendship and a significant relationship that you’re building and cultivating, you never feel like you know everything there is to know about your friends. There’s always different layers to the relationship that you can cover, so I like that.
Simone: Absolutely. It’s all about relationship, right? You just mentioned the key word is relationship.
How to make it up to your customer when you make a mistake
Simone: Relationship is crucial. I don’t know, maybe because I’m Italian but I see every relationship as important. I’m not a transactional person. I care about the people that I work with. There is something that for example I remember a lot of men do when they are in trouble that was a great lesson for me in customer service. I’ll tell you the story right now.
When a man is in trouble, what do they do? If I do something bad or my wife gets upset, what can I do?
Sonia: You try to fix it maybe?
Simone: Try to fix it with what? What is something that generally a lot of women love?
Sonia: I guess you might try to bring flowers or some food.
Simone: Food, flowers, right? So you have the sorry flowers. So you go to the florist and the florist says, “How big was the mistake?” So they will buy the bunch of flowers according to the mistakes that you’ve made. Sometimes running a business you make mistakes with your client. You upset them and maybe sometimes you don’t deliver up to their expectation or at least it happened to me sometimes.
Simone: I think that’s where the real customer service comes in because when everything is going great it’s easy, but how do you handle things when things happen? How do you show up still showing your clients that they are your number one priority?
Simone: I remember I was … One part of our business is we have digital marketing services when we build all the funnel, the messenger bots, the landing pages for our client services. I screwed up with one client, completely.
Simone: I completely messed up, under delivered on what we sold. It was a period of the business that we sold the wrong product at the wrong price and we paid for it. So, I remember this client wanted their money back. I was like, “Oh my god, I don’t want to give her the money back. What else can I do-
Simone: To turn this client that will leave us upset again into a fan or again into a supporter, have a great experience?” I went to a voucher center and I sent her a voucher with a massage and I said, “I know we caused you a bit of stress but here’s for you to distress.”
Simone: So that voucher costed me 30 pounds, 40 pounds-
Simone: I’m not sure. That saved me 3,600 pound, which is about $4,000-
Sonia: Got it.
Simone: $4,000-$5,000 of refund of a client that wanted to leave.
Sonia: Did you also fix the problem with whatever-
Simone: Of course.
Simone: I think that fixing the problem is normal.
Simone: Fixing the problem is what everyone should know how to do.
Simone: I just assumed it, sorry if I didn’t express it.
Sonia: Sometimes you’ve just got to make sure at the baseline, we don’t want to say that she was upset … Totally get it.
Simone: We fixed the problem. We said, “Okay, this is where we didn’t deliver. We are going to turn this around.” We had a clear plan on how to turn this around, clear time scale on how to turn it around. That was just the small gesture that makes the difference or a Christmas card for Christmas-
Sonia: Got it.
Simone: These small things that are crucial.
How to build a culture where everyone on the team knows your customers well
Sonia: How many people are in your company right now? I know you mentioned you and your partner when you first started, but how many are there now?
Simone: Right now we are nine.
Simone: Some of them are full-time, some part-time, some contractors. Nine people.
Sonia: So you and your partner, you lived with a certain group of your customers over that first 12-18 months. You guys know your customers really well. How do you make sure that the people who work on your team, those other seven people, know your customers just as intimately and are able to cultivate those kinds of relationships so that they can deliver remarkable experiences in the work that they do?
Simone: That’s a very good point. A big part of the sell, the name of the company is “growing together exponentially.” These three words represent the values of the company, what the company stands for: growth, togetherness and exponential results.
Simone: Part of the togetherness, which is not just a value. It is not just a word, it is a way where the company lives and breathes, what everyone does. We get our team members to spend time with our clients during the trainings that we run so then they get to know them. We organize lunches together, we organize dinners together. That’s all part of the process for the team to get to know the clients and for the clients to get to know the team because I think it’s equally important.
Simone: It’s not just about the team getting to know the clients but it’s also about the clients getting to know the team and who are the right people in place so if they have to ask a question, they can ask a question to the right person. There is again this trust which is built is almost like you’re part of the family. You’re getting to know all the family members.
Sonia: Right. I love it. I love the culture that you’re creating. It’s not like you’re leaving it up to your team members to do it on their own, you’ve created this environment and this culture to where this is just how we operate. You’re bringing everybody into the family, which is cool.
Simone: Absolutely. I guess that’s from the Italian influence. We have a big emphasis on family. Family is a huge part in my life and also in my business.
Sonia: What can we expect to see from you in the future? You did this giant social experiment. Do you have any other big plans or it’s just more of serving your customers?
Simone: At the moment we are still planning some stunts that we want to get out with. I have nothing planned yet. Actually, there are a few projects which we are really working on. One is our podcast, Explode Your Expert Biz Show, where we are getting some top influential names. We had also the son of [Timothy Robbins, Jared Robbins 00:21:01] coming in and we are getting more and more influential guests. We are starting a TV show-
Simone: With a production company called 100K or Bust, which is going to be a reality show to get a business owner from zero to 100K in 12 months. That’s something which we started last year. Because of commitment, we couldn’t move forward but we actually had a call literally an hour ago from this interview to make this happen again. That’s going to be huge.
The other part is for us to become the benchmark for experts. If someone is an expert and making money with their expertise, we want to become the benchmark for them on how to operate their business because I think a lot of people have an expertise but they don’t know how to run a business, which are two different things. I can be a great chef. Doesn’t mean I’m great at running a restaurant.
Simone: It’s completely different. So I want to make sure that we are on track to become the largest community for experts in the world. That’s where we are going to.
Sonia: Love it. Where can people find you?
Simone: Thank you for asking. The podcast, definitely if you have listened to this podcast, probably you like podcasts so you can find it on iTunes and Stitcher, which is Explode Your Expert Biz Show, and then also we have a great Facebook group, which is, guess what? It’s called Explode Your Expert Biz Community. That’s on Facebook. You can connect with us there.
If you are interested, as well, in making money from presentation then on our website we have a give away, which is a checklist to help you make more sales from seminars and webinars, which is called The Ultimate Selling From The Stage Checklist.
Sonia: Got it. All right, I’ll have all that information in the show notes so people can find it easily. What would you say are your three keys to success?
Simone: Three keys to success? Commitment, commitment, and commitment.
Sonia: Love it. Super important. Commitment, perseverance. If you’re committed, you’re not going to quit. You’re going to find a way to make it work. Super cool. Simone, this has been a lot of fun. Before I let you go, any parting words of wisdom for business leaders who are working hard to create remarkable experiences for their customers?
Simone: Yeah, absolutely. I think today is about be committed to your client. Put the final message, which was commitment, to the commitment that you have to your client. Always ask yourself, “How is this going to help my client?” It will be the right answer.
Sonia: Got it. All right. One other last question. To dive inside your head a bit more, which I love that there’s so many wonderful ideas that pop out of your head and flow your head, deliver a line from a movie that speaks to you and explain why you chose that one.
Simone: Oh my God. A line from a movie …
Sonia: It can be an Italian movie. If you say it in Italian, of course you have to explain what it means.
Simone: You know what? Again, don’t judge me for this. My favorite movie ever is Moulin Rouge the musical.
Simone: And there is the main line of Moulin Rouge, let’s see if I can remember it. It’s “The most important thing is to love and to be loved in return.” Or something like that.
Simone: I think that life without love is a bit meaningless. Whether it’s love in the business, love for people that you care about or love with a partner. That is probably the only movie phrase that is sticking with me.
Sonia: I think it’s great and it aligns so well with business because you have to love your customers, you have to love what you do, you have to love your work. I think whenever you pour a degree of genuine love into what you’re building and the people that you’re serving, that love comes back to you as well. I like it. I like it a lot. I love it.
Simone: Me too.
Sonia: Simone, thank you so much for stopping by. This has been a lot of fun. I really appreciate your insights and all the great work you’re doing.
Simone: Thank you for inviting me here, Sonia. It’s been a pleasure.