Three clienteling practices you may already be doing and how to take them to the next level.
For many mass market retailers, highly detailed and personalized clienteling solutions may be a concept just out of reach. Afterall, with such a high volume of sales and a diverse multitude of customers, it seems more like a distant goal than an immediate, viable solution. While the term ‘clienteling’ might make you think of high-end fashion houses and VIP customers, many clienteling best practices can be implemented across retail verticals. In fact, many retailers are actually clienteling without realizing it.
Personal touches manage client perceptions
A 2022 study from Hyken found:
- 74% of customers would switch to a competing brand or company if they found out they provided a better customer experience.
- 83% of shoppers trust a company or brand more if they provide an excellent customer service experience (up 4% from 2021).
Cementing strong, interpersonal customer relationships with shoppers in both online and brick and mortar stores is now more important than ever. The growing pressure to satisfy service expectations is rapidly pushing retail stores to expand the horizons of their clienteling practices.
Clienteling is the art of systematically building relationships with customers. It is the key to unlocking the level of service that customers across verticals have come to expect. Your best associates may naturally ask customers good questions, remember regulars, and generate larger basket values, a clienteling practice ensures every associate can do it straight out of the gate.
Personalized engagement may seem like something reserved for luxury markets, but even mass market retailers need to be looking at each individual customer and how to serve them best. For luxury retailers, this means engaging with customers one-on-one to create an immersive, personalized experience around them. Mass market retailers can borrow a page from the luxury clienteling playbook, but customize it in a way that’s suitable for their higher customer volume and associate rotation.
Associates need the ability to recall a customer’s information, preferences, and purchase history on-the-spot. Detailed customer profiles can enable associates to act as personal stylists for each client, but at scale. The associate may have never met the customer before, but if they can see their online purchase history and wishlist, it gives them a strong baseline to make recommendations on fit and style. The added layer of convenience makes the customer feel valued and gives them the level of service they expect from today’s retailers, no matter the price point.
Building loyalty doesn’t stop there. To truly secure the relationship, retailers must realize that the customer journey continues even after they walk out the door. Clienteling is an effective way to manage continuous outreach at scale. Sending follow-ups after a large purchase, a “Happy Birthday!” text, or just-thinking-of-you messages can go a long way for customers. In the luxury world, the associate might remember that “Rachel” just came back from vacation and to check in on how it went. For mass market retailers, this is done more at scale.
Clienteling impact on marketing effectivity
Many retailers across the industry rely on mass marketing to connect with customers by and large. The effectiveness of these large-scale campaigns can be spotty as they often come off as generic spam in the customer’s inbox. Automation isn’t to blame, coming off as automation is. Using automation alongside other clienteling best practices behind the scenes yields remarkably effective and adaptive marketing and engagement. Store associates need to be able to facilitate high-touch, personal interactions at scale in order to keep up with the modern shopper. Let’s set the scene…
A store associate gets a notification on their mobile device from the corporate office saying there is a sale on their pink cotton sweater, and they need to get the word out. The associate can quickly filter their customers’ profiles to find matches on who might purchase this sweater: Customers who have purchased similar sweaters in the past, have this sweater included in their online wish list, or individuals that prefer the color pink. From these lists, the associate can send out templated emails, texts, or even WhatsApp messages, letting customers know that something they might be interested in is going on sale. The personal message can then be automatically sent out en masse to each customer’s preferred mode of communication. From the backend, the brand has successfully targeted and sent a large-scale campaign in little to no time at all. And from the customer perspective, they received an informative, personal message from their associate who remembered their favorite color was pink.
This one-to-many approach still allows the customization of a 1-on-1 interaction, but with the functionality of a full scale campaign. In this way, clienteling helps to cut marketing costs by having associates carry out marketing functions. Saving time and money while being exceedingly effective? Say less.
Efficiency of intuitive technology for employee turnover and training
For mass market retailers, new associates need to become brand experts across channels almost instantly, but there aren’t always enough resources available to help train them. With retail turnover hitting a 5-year high, a complete and efficient transition of knowledge and data from one employee leaving to the next walking in the door can prove extremely advantageous.
Traditionally, retailers have required associates to memorize random click paths to process transactions, check inventory, and navigate through the sales process and to keep their own set of post-its and reminders when it comes to key shoppers. Top retailers across verticals are flipping the script and opting for super intuitive technology, such as iPhones and iPads, that most associates can grasp quickly and offer vast amounts of company, product, and customer data at their fingertips as soon as they start. This helps to ensure a quick learning curve, which helps keep training costs down.
Keeping training continuous and performance trackable ensures store associates are as successful as possible throughout their lifespan. Part of this has to do with centralizing information across associates, locations,and channels. Part of it lies in marking performance information available. Seeing real-time performance numbers allows new hires to be able to quickly understand expectations and learn the tools to help them to flourish. The success of the employees results in the overall success of the business (we’ve seen 2% comp growth).
Clienteling is no longer an exclusive practice, and clienteling strategies are proven to help mass market retailers succeed. Embracing clienteling fosters stronger customer loyalty, effective and economical marketing, and greater overall employee success throughout their life cycle.