Meet the Member! This blog is one in a series of posts dedicated to learning a little more about one of our PWBC members.
Caron Soenen is a Commercial Insurance agent for Farmers helping small business owners protect their assets and their employees with Workers Comp policies specific to their needs. She enjoys sharing what she knows about the workings of insurance policies and recognizes that insurance has its own special kind of language that is important to know.
Languages and teaching have been a large part of who she is. She learned many programming languages in her education and career as a software engineer, and spent several years traveling and teaching military members how to use the software that her team developed for the Space and Defense sector at TRW.
Caron is a native of the Bay Area having earned her first degree at College of San Mateo and, after attending San Diego State University for her junior year, returned to San Jose State University to complete her Computer Science degree while working full time.
Computers and traveling were great fun but she learned that motherhood opened a new and wonderful part of her life and she retired after 20 years to become a full time mom. Cherishing every moment and every day, volunteering in the library and classrooms from kindergarten until they kicked her out in 4th grade, being a softball, basketball, and soccer mom and even an AYSO referee made life full of fun memories. She began volunteering in other aspects of life too, including with PSI, Personal Success Institute and a personal growth leader since the 70’s, where she learned about expanding personal responsibility, happiness is a choice, and overcoming fears to live the life she chooses. She is grateful for her family, friends, and wonderful extended family as well, and looks forward to each and every day with a smile!
PWBC Member Julie Parker offered some helpful ideas for building customer support and trust during these times when direct contact is not always possible.
As someone very accustomed to having customers touch and feel her products, growing her business at a distance has been challenging. Julie believes that our path to success is to learn how to portray ourselves in an understandable way, which will in turn build trust. We know that people tend to gravitate to well-known brands because they know and trust it, and they don’t have the opportunity to get to know something new.
We need to understand the customer in order to allow the customer to understand our product or service. Body language and presence are a big part of communication and marketing so it is important, in the absence of direct presence, to build trust with the customer in new ways. One of the most critical ways is “seeing” the customer, which is really working to understand them, and how our product or service might work for them personally.
In person we can be more expressive. People want to see your hands. Moving closer and being more intentional so that expressions and feelings convey is key. Reflect what they are saying and build a rapport because we know that sharing emotions builds trust. Also, try to be more expressive physically – use your hands, move in closer, be intentional about how you come across. And voicing agreement and showing emotions goes a long way to helping new customers, especially, feel good working with you. If we are mindful, we can do this over video chat.
On Zoom you can also do what Julie calls a forensic chit chat – just a few minutes to initially listen to what is going on. Our natural position tends to be to give them a lot of information but we want to listen and hear what they are saying. It is important to dedicate your time to this. With email and Zoom, it is possible to spend more time with the customer. It’s important to improve your Zoom skills and background to present yourself in the best light (figuratively and literally!).
Showing our expertise is another way to work through these unusual times for selling and marketing to new clients. For example, Julie is a certified green business for San Mateo and that happened to be a huge area of concern once the virus lockdown happened. The larger changes we saw as a community allowed people to be more connected to the green aspect of their lives and, as a result, her business. She incorporates that green certification into her marketing as it attracts a new set of more aware clientele. Julie encourages us all to think about what we are doing in our own businesses to be more socially responsible, and make sure we do not overlook the opportunity to promote that moving forward.
Julie Parker is the creative mind behind Blue Okra, a company that is committed to delivering their customers ethically made, environmentally conscious, perfectly cozy baby blankets and more. Visit www.blueokra.com for more information.