I was recently shopping in Sephora; I was looking for a specific item and had even brought the empty box for its replacement. I was approached promptly by a sales associate and unfortunately, they didn’t have what I was after. I picked up a few other things and headed to the check out. I was served by the same person who assisted me earlier, then I was asked “Did you find everything you were after today?”. I looked back at them, empty boxes in hand… “um no, but you just served me”…
This got me thinking, what is it with customer service these days. Have we created too many processes and procedures that basic logic and organic customer service has gone?
With self-service check-outs and the emerging technologies of mobile check out and Amazon Go it’s clear that transactional trends are pushing towards less human interaction and increasingly offering ways for shoppers to seamlessly get what they’re after, without the need for face-to-face interaction, and thus mirror the frictionless experience that online shopping affords them.
Luxury fashion retailer Farfetch, undertook a study to help understand the store of the future. However, conversely, findings highlighted the importance of human interaction, especially in the luxury goods market. A key discovery was the sales associate values not abandoning customers so that they can continue to serve them. They are a retailer’s best asset but are often tied up in process tasks, inadequately supported by tech that would otherwise seamlessly provide supporting information such as customer or stock data. And customers want gratification through recognition of their previous purchases and loyalty.
Clienteling is the buzzword gaining ground in the realm of best in class customer service. It refers to technologies and tactics associated with providing a sales associates with timely, key customer information (preferences, behaviours and past purchases) to be able to create personalised experiences.
Farfetch’s store of the future is geared to evolve their learnings in clienteling, searching for the unique balance of empowering fashion advisors while giving consumers control of the experience they want.
And this is the key… giving the consumers the control of the experience they want, whether that is frictionless timely mobile check-out or personal styling services.
While my particular experience may not have been aided by clienteling support, investing in technologies in aiding the sales associate would create value for the voice of the in-store influencer.