With the retail landscape, both online and in-store, more competitive than ever, retailers are doing more to set themselves apart from their competitors — especially with exceptional customer service.
Luxury-level customer service is expected at high-end businesses, but any retailer can offer high-touch service to their customers. That includes small, family businesses and brands that prefer to sell at fairs, festivals, and marketplaces.
As a customer, you’ve likely experienced this kind of “white glove” service. Alliance Data states in their 2018 Retail Trends Report that: “To counter increased customer expectations and needs, brands are elevating their service offerings through deeper engagement opportunities and innovative connectivity.”
Need some inspiration for your retail business? Let’s take a look at a few examples of retailers doing high-touch customer service right.
Even though online shopping is an ever-growing industry, brick-and-mortar retail stores still play a major role in commerce. In fact, Alliance Data reports that “75% of customers still want to see a product in store” before making a purchase.
But how do you keep that audience from just window shopping in-store and then making their final purchase online because of the convenience and low prices? You can help curb this showrooming trend by “exploring new real-estate strategies by reimagining and repurposing store environments to be more relevant and responsive to customer needs” according to the aforementioned 2018 Retail Trends Report.
The in-store shopping experience at beauty haven Sephora is unparalleled. The brick-and-mortar locations offer on-the-spot makeup and skincare consultations and recommendations using the latest in technology, unlimited product testing, and plenty of sales associates with expertise in the field. Plus, if customers are part of their loyalty rewards program, they’re privy to even more services, including product samples to take home, makeovers, and invites to private in-store events. This level of customer service is what keeps all the Sephora locations buzzing with activity year-round.
For more on setting up a loyalty program, read How to Start a Loyalty Program That Keeps Customers Coming Back.
Have you ever been to a store that offered a personal shopper? This luxury experience is usually reserved for super-pricey boutiques or high-end department stores, but the sentiment of curated, hand-picked selections for your customers is something that can be adapted for almost any retail business.
Gap is one of the latest to test out subscription boxes, where customers pay a monthly fee to receive a shipment of assorted products based their needs and wants. Targeted to parents of little ones, their OutfitBox of baby clothes gives parents the option to save precious time by shipping a collection of items to their door on a regular basis.
This level of customer service comes at a cost for those who subscribe, but not having to purchase new clothes constantly as their child grows makes it worth the investment for parents. Plus, as Alliance Data points out that: “Providing a new avenue for product discovery, brands are able to respond to the desire for curated offerings while accessing greater data on customers and their product interactions.”
The data that you collect from subscribers can be used to inform countless aspects of your business, including future product offerings, audience targeting and marketing, as well as providing data on your most loyal customers you can use to customize communications.
How are primarily online retailers delivering an exceptional experience to their customers? Waiting for delivery, missing a package drop-off, and lost or stolen items are some of the main grievances that online shoppers express.
So, what can you do to make the delivery of your products a better customer experience? Alliance Data reports that one way retailers are stepping up their customer service is with customer-controlled delivery options: “With options like instant pickup and on-demand delivery, brands continue to put the controls in the customers’ hands.”
For example, Amazon first introduced Amazon Prime to offer loyal customers a better, faster delivery experience (for a small fee, of course). Since then, Amazon has introduced same-day delivery to large, urban centers with high traffic — where customers can place an order by a certain time of the day and receive their package by end of the day, therefore capitalizing on the instant gratification that is sometimes lost for online shoppers.
But now it looks like customers in certain locations can get their Amazon goods even sooner. In the 2018 Retail Trends Report, Alliance Data states that “Amazon is now offering Instant Pickup services near college campuses in select cities. Prime and Prime Student members can purchase a selection of essentials like snacks, drinks, and electronics, available for pickup in two minutes or less.” Surely, if this trial is successful, we’ll be seeing Amazon pickup locations in cities around the world.
Typically value chains like Walmart aren’t synonymous with high-touch customer service — but in reality, Walmart has embraced advancements in technology to elevate the shopping experience for their customers. Alliance Data found that “Walmart has been aggressively adding new customer conveniences in order to appeal to today’s shoppers. This includes partnering with Google Home for voice-based shopping, offering discounts for in-store pickup, a new mobile service called Easy Reorder, and testing 24-hour, automated shopping kiosks that can process and serve orders in 60 seconds or less.”
Adopting new technologies to better serve your customers is a great way to get ahead of your competitors and wow your customers. By investing in cutting-edge technology now, you can also save your retail business money in the future in the form of better product forecasting, fewer returns and exchanges, longer selling periods by giving customers the option to shop anytime/anywhere, as well as freeing up time for customer service representatives (for brick-and-mortar and online businesses) by increasing customer satisfaction.
Another way that retailers can provide customers with high-touch customer service is by making their lives better. People love brands and products that solve problems, make their day-to-day routine easier, and/or provide peace of mind.
With that sentiment in mind, Best Buy is launching Assured Living, a safe way to monitor elderly parents in their homes. Alliance Data reports that “the goal is to provide peace of mind for families of elderly living independently. It uses cameras, motion sensors, and artificial intelligence to learn the patterns of residents’ behaviors and monitor the home. When behaviors differ from normal patterns, the app sends an alert.”
The ultimate in customer service, this kind of program takes products that customers already love and combines them with technology that can not only make daily living better but help prevent accidents. Thanks to this innovative solution, more customers are seeing that Best Buy sells a lot more than high-tech toys — the brand provides solutions to prevalent and very real problems.
Incorporating Luxury Customer Service
Now that you’ve been inspired by these retailers that are setting the bar for high-touch customer service, what can you do to offer a similar experience to your audience?
In the article Star Treatment: Customer Service Lessons from Luxury Brands, Business News Daily points out that, “Your business likely doesn't offer ‘white-glove’ service and cater to the rich and famous, but that doesn't mean you can't give your customers the star treatment.”
They suggest that the ways to incorporate luxury mentality into the every day for your business is to: be empathetic, collect regular feedback, track customer service metrics, be available to your customers, and get the entire company on board with customer service.
By building a meaningful relationship with your customers and constantly looking for ways to exceed their expectations, you’ll be able to better anticipate their needs, select product offerings that make sense, and set yourself apart from your competitors.
Have you done anything to make your customer service experience better? Tell us how you give your customers the five-star treatment in the comments.