Take a Walk in Your Customer's Shoes

From a customer's first interaction on the website, to the class itself, owner and founder, Lindsey Kaalberg, put extreme thought and care into building a memorable experience.

learn more about Emily Washcovick

By Emily Washcovick

Ritual Hot Yoga

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Behind the Review host and Yelp's Small Business Expert, Emily Washcovick, shares a look at this week's episode of the podcast.

Walking in someone else's shoes can have so many benefits. This week's guest, owner and founder of Ritual Hot Yoga uses that method in almost every aspect of her business. Lindsey Kaalberg designed her business around the experience of the customer—from conception to execution to feedback—all with the end goal of ensuring the guest experience is outstanding.

When you hear the word yoga, you may have a specific vision in mind, but with Ritual, it's likely not what you think. This week's Yelp reviewer, Jane C., sums it up quite nicely: "At the hot yoga studio, you will sweat, stretch, and work out your mind, body, and soul to the beat of the music through intensive breath work. You will challenge every part of your body to a workout experience like no other."

As a business owner, having a customer positively review your business as an experience "like no other" is pretty much as good as it gets—especially when you're aiming to be unique. But as we've learned from so many entrepreneurs, it takes a lot of work to truly achieve that. To find success, Lindsay really put herself in her future customer's shoes. Her goal was to make the whole interaction an experience, not just a yoga class. She thought of every detail from the customer's perspective and created something that didn't feel transactional. For Lindsay, when someone comes to Ritual Hot Yoga's website, that is the moment their experience begins. From there, it's how they feel when they walk in the door and how they will be greeted—not at just a front desk, but more like a home you're being welcomed into.

Lindsay's efforts have resulted in customers feeling both valued and invested in. She's also aware that what she's offering isn't your "typical yoga experience," and that can cause some mixed feedback. But it's from that feedback—the good and bad—that she's truly able to take her business to the next level. Rather than getting defensive at the not-so-positive reviews, she thinks critically and looks for ways to make her business better—even looking for positives in the reviews of those who may not have understood what they were getting themselves into.

Some of the key takeaways from this episode include:

  • Use the customer experience as a driving force for your business decisions. If you start with the customer and work backwards, you'll be set up for success. It's about building your business around the experience, rather than a product or business goal.
  • It's not the number of stars in the review, It's the content. Sometimes a critical review speaks directly to who you are as a business. For example, some yogis may not enjoy the heat or fast pace of Ritual Hot Yoga, but those things are what make it unique. A 1-star review complaining about the heat is the kind of critical review Lindsay loves. It may be one star, but it highlights what other people love about the experience.
  • Just because something doesn't already exist doesn't mean you can't make it happen. When Lindsay first thought about getting into yoga, she had only seen teachers who could barely make ends meet. She wanted to change that. She created a model where she prioritizes her teachers' pay to enable them to do what they love at a living wage, and that results in an even better customer experience.

Listen to the episode below to hear directly from Lindsay and Jane, and subscribe to Behind the Review for more from new business owners and reviewers every Thursday.

Emily Washcovick

Small Business Expert at Yelp

As Yelp’s Small Business Expert, Emily is meticulously focused on helping local business owners succeed and grow. Her expertise lies in customer engagement, reputation management, and all things digital marketing. Through speaking engagements and thought leadership, Emily shares industry insights that entrepreneurs in any business category can leverage for the growth and well-being of their businesses. She is also the host of Behind the Review, a podcast from Yelp and Entrepreneur Media, where each episode features conversations with a business owner and a reviewer about the story and lessons behind their interactions.

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