I recently wrote “Missed Moments in Customer Service” about a failed shopping experience at a luxury store. I analyzed each step of the interaction to see what the salesperson could have done to provide better service. Now, several weeks later, the details of that interaction have faded and what I’m left with is simply this—I had a disappointing experience. The encounter didn’t fit with my expectation of the brand. That’s when I realized luxury brands need to move beyond just providing luxury service, to creating a complete luxury experience.
What makes a luxury experience?
Luxury is the opposite of ordinary. Nothing about the luxury experience should be mundane. Everything about the interaction should be delightful and memorable. Here are some suggestions for turning luxury customer service into luxury customer experience:
- Create some magic
Whether I’m purchasing a designer dress, dining at a posh restaurant, or checking into a four-star hotel, create a little magic for me! Sales associates at Louis Vuitton don white gloves before presenting a handbag. Harry Winston offers you a glass of champagne as you peruse their diamonds, and Ritz-Carlton instructs its employees never to say ‘no’ to a guest. Think about how to make the customer experience magical and unforgettable.
- Make me the center of your universe
Of course you have other customers; of course you have paperwork to complete; but while I’m your customer, I should have your complete attention. Ask the right open-ended questions to better understand what I want, and then listen. Sounds simple, but I cannot tell you how many sales associates talk more than they listen.
- Be the brand
Your attitude, dress and language should reflect your brand’s image. Your passion for the brand should come through in your actions and words. Is your vocabulary consistent with your brand’s message? Share a bit of history, express excitement about your latest product, or tell me how much you love what I’ve chosen and why. I like your brand; that’s why I’m here. If you’re not crazy passionate about your brand, consider working somewhere else.
- Consistency, consistency, consistency!
Everything the customer sees and hears—from the décor, to the background music, to the way the purchase is presented—should enhance the experience. Carefully consider every design choice to ensure it exemplifies the brand. Pay attention to every detail. The Tiffany bow is never askew! Remember, the customer experience goes beyond the store. Advertising, websites, social media, corporate responsibility, and after-sales service—all need to align with the brand promise.
Here’s an example: A few weeks ago I needed to buy a dress for a last minute event. While I was paying, the cashier asked whether a sales associate had helped me pick out the dress. When I replied no one had, she held up the dress, smiled and said “Well, you did a great job picking this out. It’s beautiful.” It was such a small thing, but it changed my entire experience from a harried task to an enjoyable encounter.
How will you know if you’ve created a luxury experience? If I can’t wait to return, then you’ve done it right.