In the race to build lifelong loyalty, more brands than ever are jostling to put customers into the centre of their organisation. But in the struggle, many forget that it’s no accident there are two words in the phrase “customer service”.

Too often, in their race to think about the customer, they forget to think about how they look after their team providing the “service”, and just how important that is to the complete customer experience.

In this article I want to explore how companies are looking again at their side of the customer equation, in an effort to bring more to the exchange. How are they empowering and creating a great experience for their teams, to pass onto the final customer?

Luxury Is Leading the Way

 If there’s one industry which knows how to master the art of customer experience, it’s luxury retail. The stakes are high and it is in the retailer’s interest to go above and beyond in presenting the aspirational lifestyle that comes with their brand.

Maybe that’s providing a glass of fine whisky while you discuss your suit requirements with 400-year-old luxury tailor, Gieves & Hawkes. Or having your new dress delivered by an impeccably dressed Net-A-Porter delivery man.

If your customer is in the habit of dropping thousands in your store on a regular basis, you need to know that customer as best as you can. But how can sales assistants know every customer who walks through their door?

Burberry is one luxury retailer which knows how to use data to better serve its customers, after rolling out clienteling iPads three years ago. These tablets don’t just provide the sales assistant with product information. Burberry’s investment into CRM ensures the devices provide a detailed customer directory at the employee’s fingertips.

The idea of deploying a supermarket-style loyalty points card did not sit well with the luxury brand, instead, Burberry’s ‘Customer 360’ CRM program allows the retailer to collect detailed data on its customers.

If customers choose to opt in, Burberry will understand their shopping behavior, style preferences, what items they have in their online basket, products purchased and stores they purchase those items from, as well as even knowing what the customer says about the brand on social media.

The reward for sharing this data? Not money off vouchers but simply a better in-store experience, with iPad-wielding sales assistants who can greet you by name and offer personalized style recommendations.

Remember Physical Isn’t Going Anywhere

While the headlines squawk the rise of eCommerce killing traditional shopping centers, we’ve actually seen that customers still want to spend time in physical retail stores.

Furthermore, shops left empty by businesses who failed to keep up with digital consumers have been snapped up by local retailers and often used as pop-ups to showcase exciting start-up businesses – most of which start off online.

Existing eCommerce titans are also taking advantage of this opportunity, with examples like Amazon’s University campus bookstore in the US or’s showrooms now in London, Liverpool and Yorkshire.

Then there are the traditional retailers who have adopted to this new omnichannel reality. Just look at the likes of American Golf, offering expert instore clubfitting, or Mothercare hosting childcare classes for new parents. Both of these examples highlight how your staff can add value to any customer’s experience.

As an added bonus, store presence leads to a boost in web traffic – after all, a flagship store is your best advertising billboard.

Making Contact

While the retail landscape may be transforming radically at the moment, some things about people never change. As long as human beings still benefit from face-to-face contact, retailers will continue to think innovatively about how they can create opportunities to build a stronger relationship in that way.

Far from creating more and more barriers between retailers and their customers, technology and an innovative mindset may turn out to be key in bringing them closer together, every day.

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