ONE SIZE SUITS NONE: HOW CAN YOUR BUSINESS BECOME BESPOKE?

Are you a busy entrepreneurial type looking to stand out in this world of competitive, mass media clamouring? Today’s Carbon Curated star, Caroline Grimes, explains how to add a personal hand print that impresses buyers...

Caroline is an employment lawyer and entrepreneur. She founded the bespoke jewellery company Peanut & Bean. Caroline has tapped into the demand for personalised client service - appointing her as your lawyer is like gaining an extra HR professional team member. So there’s no-one better to give you some top tips on tailoring your approach to suit your client’s needs.

THE POWER OF COLLABORATION

The future looks bright for businesses that get their clients involved in decision making. Research by Deloitte shows that 36% of consumers are interested in purchasing personalised products or services. In some categories of consumer products such as fashion and holidays, this rises to over 50% of consumers. What's more, most consumers will pay more for this ‘personal touch’. One off, bespoke items can be especially valuable. 

To stay in tune with this trend, Caroline set up her own creative venture, producing silver jewellery engraved with bespoke designs like hand prints and foot prints. “Whilst on maternity leave, I realised that Peppa Pig repeats might soon send me insane!” Caroline laughs. “To keep my brain whirring, I built a business from scratch. I was inspired by the idea of creating something truly unique. So I learned how to make personalised jewellery, which my customers help design.”

This experience was an eye opener for Caroline. “It taught me an enormous amount about what makes customers feel looked after. People love being involved in innovation. They want to feel part of the process. And, of course, they enjoy receiving something that is tailored to their specific purpose and vision.”

UNDERSTAND YOUR CLIENT’S WORLD

Bespoke service is not just profitable for consumer products – professionals can support their clients a lot more sensitively if they take the trouble to learn about their needs.

“A couple of years ago I came to realise that the most rewarding and valued aspect of my skill set is looking at problems from the client’s point of view, not just from an outside perspective. I love working together to deal with a challenging situation. When you’re collaborating so closely on a project, clients feel reassured to know that their lawyer understands the situation as clearly as they do.”

Caroline looked around and realised that she was different. Very few employment lawyers were bothering to get into the mind-set of an HR professional. So she thought, why not go a step further and earn the respected HR qualification? As a member of the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Professional Development) Caroline appreciates the day to day issues that HR departments and managers face. Because everyone’s on the same page, Caroline’s clients know that her advice is thoughtful, clear, and well-informed. It’s a fail-safe recipe for client-lawyer relationships based on trust.

For Caroline, the personal ‘hand print’ is just as important when it comes to providing legal advice as when she’s creating bespoke jewellery. “My clients don’t feel like they are just a number. I explain why my advice is best suited to their specific situation. ‘One size fits all’ advice is like a suit that does the job, but creates problems later on. A burst button here… a breached employment contract there. Whereas a bit more time spent researching the business and understanding their working practices is like a beautifully crafted tuxedo that fits seamlessly.” Caroline’s clients are ready for anything - and they don’t even have to pay a premium!

So if you’re looking to tap into the demand for personalised service, start by doing some R&D. How can you build a clearer picture of your clients’ world? This might be a new qualification, or it could just be some good old fashioned nosiness! Try carrying out a survey to find out how your customers are using your product. Most likely, this will shine a light on new opportunities to develop new products or services for different people.

BECOME PART OF THE TEAM

Let’s recap. To create a personalised service, you need to do two simple things. Plan your approach in partnership with your clients and do what you can to understand their world. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll soon become a vital part of their team.

These steps will lead to a brilliant and irresistibly moreish result for your clients. Both of Caroline’s businesses are thriving, and she gets a lot of repeat custom. “Whether I’m delivering a pair of cuff-links or a complex employment contract, people love being involved in the creation process.” Caroline says. “They come to me because of my skills and expertise – and they trust me to get on with the job in hand. But they want a bespoke outcome – just right for the purpose.”

Plus, delivering this kind of bespoke advice feels great. “My job allows me to get stuck into all sorts of businesses, covering an exciting range of products and services. I enjoy hearing about each company’s plans and goals and helping them succeed. My added HR background means I’m equipped to leap in and become part of the HR team when my clients need an extra pair of hands on deck.” That’s Caroline’s personal ‘hand print’ on the experience she offers clients.

What’s yours?

April 2016

Author
Caroline Grimes
Caroline Grimes
Employment

I advise businesses of all shapes and sizes and individuals on HR and Employment related issues.  I love working as an integral part of their team, helping the HR professionals to overcome a challenge and coming up with a creative solution. I don’t just “do HR” I have an excellent knowledge of it and a true passion for it. It is real life: current, people facing and interesting. I can (and do) advise on HR matters which are not strictly employment law related and am a member of the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD).