Trilogy Blog

Having Empathy, Not Apathy Results in a Successful Tutoring Business

Author: Erika R. Carson, Ed.S.

Published: December 2, 2020

There are many businesses out there that do not require having an emotional connection with clients – where owners and instructors can be completely apathetic, and still be successful, however, education is not one of these businesses. Like other service industries, education is all about the quality of the experience that students, parents, and partner programs are having with the service tutors are providing. Parents, guardians, programs, etc., are reaching out to tutors and tutoring companies because they have some level of concern for their students – whether their students need more academic support or a higher level of challenge. Being numb to the emotional needs of your clients and your instructors will become a complete turn-off, and will turn users away at some point if they feel unheard. Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule, and there needs to be a balance between your empathy and the logistics of running a successful business. When you (and your team) have the ability to recognize the needs of your clients and make them feel like you’ve customized your service just for them when they believe they are being listened to, and when you sprinkle in something special that makes your service a hair better than the competition, will be the rn customers that come back to you time and again, and who send referrals your way. 

1. As important as it is to plan for the logistics of running a quality education service, is making plans to connect with your clients, in order to create that quality experience that makes them truly believe that you have your clients’ best interests at heart. Here are a few things you may want to consider when putting together your service plan so that it goes beyond just teaching students how to tackle their schoolwork. What are the issues I might face and how should I address them? You’re definitely not going to be able to guess every problem that might arise, but you can definitely brainstorm some that will so plan out different ways that you will address these issues. For example, parents and students typically forget their login information a lot, it’s just expected, so responding quickly and politely is important. It’s also important to know who’s going to respond. If you’re a team of one, it’s pretty obvious, but beyond that make sure you’re clear about who holds this responsibility. There’s nothing worse than calling in for help and getting past from one team member to the next, and/or reaching a team that doesn’t have a plan for supporting clients. Model the behaviors you want to see from your team – snarky bosses are contagious and snarky team members will result in a negative client experience. Even if you are a team of one, people are watching and they will connect your behaviors and actions with your company. 

2. Knowing your students and their learning needs is an essential part of building a successful tutoring company. Imagine going to the doctor’s office and they didn’t check for your medical history or ask you about your everyday habits that might be affecting your health, that’s what it feels like when apathetic tutors and tutoring companies try to address a learning issue without any background information. Figure out a way to know your clients better. Whether it’s through an initial discovery process, or through some other means of feedback, understanding who your clients are and why they are coming to you for support is critical. This information will help you add in a bit of customization that will make them feel like you really listened to them. For example, knowing which parents might need more tech support and proactively addressing this issue will eliminate those feelings of intimidation for them. Parents will avoid situations that make them feel uncomfortable or stupid, so removing that barrier will certainly help them feel you are working with them, rather than looking down on them. More importantly, get to know the needs of their children/students – when things are not going as expected and parents just don’t know what to do to support their students, showing them that they can trust you to take care of their child as well as they do can mean all the difference in the world, and these parents will let everyone else know what you did for their family. 

3. Families have busy schedules, so finding ways to acknowledge them and your appreciation for them, and creating positive experiences makes them feel special. Believing that your company is at the center of a parents universe won’t get you very far, but acknowledging that there is more to life than the services that your company is providing, by sending out generic holiday greetings, words of encouragement, fun activities, strategies for support, and/or information about big events will get you pretty far. You can do this by way of a regular newsletter, or you can simply send a short email checking in with parents and students to let them know that you care about them, your client community, and their well being. Perhaps you stumbled across a great article that you thought some parents might be interested in, or you have some suggestions for generically addressing sticky conversations related to topics like addressing politics or other news headlines with their kids. You may also make your company the source of levity by providing families with different ideas for them to tie math into everyday cooking. There are so many things that you can do that take very little time and energy, but provide that little bit of something extra that keeps people coming back to your business.

Empathy for clients, not apathy, will be the difference between what you have to offer your students and their families/programs. Going that extra mile to show clients that you’re not just in this business for a paycheck and that you truly want them to feel understood will be the difference between short and long-term relationships, returning customers, and referrals via reputation. Have a heart and you’ll have a level of organic growth that will become the foundation of your business.

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