Clienteling is a technique that sets its bases in the treatment that characterizes small businesses with the peculiarity of knowing how to take advantage of what Big Data has to offer.
We are coming to the end of the year, and we can safely say that the idea of client experience in stores has been one of the mantras that has determined the lines of thought around Retail in recent times. At this point, where the buying behaviour of customers has been diversified, it is necessary to focus on studying closely what the differentiating elements of the store are, as opposed to the channels that are dedicated, for example, exclusively to online sales. We agree that the experiential store is the path that brands should take when it comes to winning and building customer loyalty; however, what are the new techniques and trends within this mantra that is repeated endlessly? Today, we are going to talk about clienteling as the most popular method in Luxury Retail, when it comes to executing the most exclusive and satisfying in-store experience.
Before getting into the subject and talking about clienteling, we would like to highlight a couple of ideas offered by Marcos Álvarez in an interview given for Modaes, on the occasion of the publication of his latest book Retail Thinking. In it, the interviewee states: “The seller is not someone who talks, it is someone who listens. Companies must go from inside out, from thinking about a product and selling it, to inside in, from understanding the customer and doing something for him”. At the same time, Álvarez states: “The retailer who only focuses on selling a product is dead. The consumer can find the product anywhere.” We find these ideas very evocative when it comes to understanding and putting into context what clienteling is and how it is implemented in a practical way in the Luxury Retail sector. Basically, the clienteling wants to regain the relationship of trust and closeness that has always united people in small businesses all their lives. That’s why knowing the client in depth – and for that, less talking and more listening, or failing that, attending and interpreting the data – becomes capital. Our consultant Laura Vaquero pertinently points out: “Clienteling is a technique that has always existed, but only now large firms have begun to digitize and measure it. In fact, clienteling is a technique that is enormously profitable in the long run, because it follows a circular process. This means that there is a direct correlation between the satisfaction and trust generated in the client and their level of loyalty to the firm. Therefore, in many cases it is possible that this translates into an increase in customer spending and even better: that this attracts other potential customers – friends, relatives with a similar economic income – to the store. The question is to generate that close and familiar atmosphere, where bonds of trust are established where the retailer serves as advisor and right hand when offering advice to the client.
In Luxe Talent we consider that these would be the three keys at the time of applying the clienteling within the sector of Luxury Retail:
Retailer’s interest must be genuine
The word “genuine” becomes key to know how to properly apply clienteling. When we speak about this technique, the attention paid by the retailer to the customer must come from a deep knowledge and real interest. Our consultant Laura Vaquero points out: “it is essentially about knowing the client, their tastes, preferences, style, the moment they are in… It is always simpler to buy from a person you feel knows you and knows exactly what you are looking for”. Let’s take a practical example of this: the client is going to attend a special family event, say a wedding. Getting the customer advice process right will be more effective if the retailer knows the customer’s family -even if it is from hearsays-: he will be able to know exactly what type of event it is. If this interest shown by the retailer is fake, it is unlikely that the result will be positive: in fact, it will probably end up causing rejection.
Sharing data with retailers is essential
The simplest technique when collecting information about a customer is through a loyalty card. This card makes it possible to keep track of the consumer’s tastes. The key lies in taking it one step further by applying the cross-merchandising technique. From here, the differentiating work is determined by the retailer, knowing how to use these data in an intelligent and humane way when anticipating the wishes and tastes of the customer, not only knowing what they are looking for, but also in the products that are related to this item and that could potentially interest them. At the same time, the data can be of great help when elaborating substitution relations between the items: if for whatever reason the customer does not find what he wants, the sales assistant must be able to offer him something equivalent and, in this sense, the data can be a great ally.
The sales team must be extremely well trained
Marcos Álvarez, in his interview, once again provides us with some interesting aspects regarding store sales managers: “The customer experience begins with the employee experience. They are the ones who unfold the deal with the client so that they speak well of the brand. Nothing we have said throughout the article is useful if the retailer does not believe in the value of the brand it represents and does not have specialized training for the work it does. This point is extremely linked to the previous one regarding data: it is not only a measurement of data, but its study, analysis and interpretation, in order to offer the best customer service, as our specialist Laura Vaquero indicates, even anticipating their own desires.