Retail Associates — Engaging with customers from a distance

The Black Book — otherwise known as the bible of the sales associate, especially in the world of luxury retail contains all the in-depth knowledge needed to enable shaping of offers, new ranges and services to the high-value customers of your brand. Information such as birthdays, interests and hobbies, together with a history of what they have previously purchased, helps to ensure timely and relevant propositions to the customers. Invites to preview events, or special celebrity-endorsed occasions can be offered to the key customers and influencers, bringing them closer to the brand while also building loyalty.

Technology has enabled the Black Book to transfer to mobile devices (e.g. tablets, phones) so that other opportunities can be opened up during interactions. Conversations can take place about stock availability, surveys can be completed and further appointments can be booked. But how do we leverage the capabilities of this technology when the sales associate is not in direct proximity to the customer? This could be when the customer is shopping from home, yet still wants the exceptional personalised service offered by the associate, or the associate working remotely from the store.

Always serving each customer better, every time

This is one of my favourite ambitions and was developed by a great Marketing Director that I worked alongside for several years. The emphasis is on each customer and on doing it better every time. How better to live this than by being available to serve at many touchpoints — not just alongside the customer.

Ideas for ‘Serving better every time’ are:
- Being able to provide yet more information to help them in their journey
- Utilising conversational tools to make them feel that they are the centre of your world
- Connecting them to similarly minded customers and influencers as this socially networked world develops around us

Bringing this all together

Suppose that the customer is not alongside you in the store, but instead either at home or travelling further afield. Mobile technology enables retail associates to extend their reach through email and chat — depending upon how formal you want the communications to be.

They can, for example, give notice on new ranges and ‘hot’ new products, enabling key customers to be among the first to see and shop. They can invite top customers to exclusive events and experiences, increasing their social currency by being at places inaccessible to others.

You can make appointments to meet in the store, where a range of products are available to experience or try on, because you already know the sizes/preferences, and to further drive cross and up-selling opportunities. Working in these ways helps the retail associate to maximise the contact time that they have in store, allowing the customer to spend exactly how much time they want to spend in the store, and not delaying them getting on with their day. Numerous surveys tell us that all customers get dissatisfied with delays in ‘getting on with their days’.

At the current time, with the horrendous turn of events (Covid-19, March 2020) this can be incredibly useful when both the customer and retail associate are away from the store.

Communication will be essential as both try to sustain a feeling of near normality, and also to drive sales to the online channels to continue driving sales. Maintaining communications be essential to be able to drive a ramp-up once the world emerges from this pandemic tunnel.

Three simple takeaways…
- Mobile technology transforms the Black Book repository of information into a tool that can drive active, personalised engagement.
- Advance communications can prepare for a much more engaging in-store experience.
- At times of crisis, mobile technology can both maintain relationships and be used to customers to online platforms.

To build on this, read the article on how ‘Personal attention is the lifeblood of clienteling’ by clicking the link here.

Supporting retail executives in discovering new technology driven opportunities