Moving Beyond Customer Service to Customer Experience

BellI 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.

4 thoughts on “Moving Beyond Customer Service to Customer Experience

  1. Absolutely to the point.When I was working for the “la Romana”stores(exclusives stores in the Caribean with their head office on St.Martin)as general manager,I experienced very often that the saleslady was more “chique”then the client….
    When I started to work for this company(which belonged to “La Perla”but also sold brands like “Fendi”,Cartier/Armani/Grigio La Perla etc.etc)I noticed an attitude ,which pretended that the client “should be happy to be helped by them and was “allowed “to buy something in this exclusive store…..?!
    Not the other way around.
    When you enter a luxury store you are, of course, aware of the prices;But a salesperson who gives the impression that you are not supposed to say something about the price of an article,gives a wrong signal.
    Their task is to convince you ,in a realistic way, why the price is like that and to “talk you into that article”,without pushing…
    When I was in the “Hermes-store”in Milano I noticed a jacket for euro 89.000,-
    Allthough I did not buy it,the salesperson explained me every detail of the jacket,which I had not noticed on first sight.She did not pretend that this was a “normal”price for a jacket,even when it had the name of “Hermes”,but convinced me that this price was quite realistic for that article in particular.
    In no way did she give me ,one minute,the impression that I was a”stranger in town….”,so to speak!
    Because I felt comfortable wirth this person I did buy several other articles and will certainly come back.


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