Much has been said about improving customer service over the past few decades. Given the trend toward globalization (especially due to the Internet) and world economic turmoil, one could easily assume customer service is no longer an issue, simply because (in theory) companies should have learnt enough from the tough lessons associated with poor customer assistance or post-sales service in the past.
Unfortunately, the problem not only persists, but it has also become a real challenge for many a renowned firm, especially in the retail arena—more specifically, in the luxury retail industry, where excellence is a non-negotiable. Why? Because now more than ever, Customers are Kings and Queens! These words should be repeated like a mantra every day, all day long, by anyone trying to do business nowadays. And, more importantly, these words must be put into practice to ensure the survival of your business and your brand.
What Is Excellence?
So what is excellence after all? Excellence is simply giving much more value than expected.
Let me give you an example of what excellence is not: let´s imagine you’re inclined to get a lovely piece of jewelry for your beloved. The idea warmed up for awhile in your head and the decision is finally made to visit a well-known jewelry store in town. You step in, confident that you will be received like a King (or Queen). After all, this is a shop you don’t put your feet into every day, unlike the supermarket or your favorite retail store. But instead of a King’s reception, you get what I call “the scanning look”— an employee looks you up and down with unforgettable body language clearly indicating that you’re not very welcome there, despite their attempt at what is obviously a forced “gentle” smile. Believe me, sometimes you’re not aware it’s happening, but you can certainly feel it.
Then things get even worse. After the usual opening greeting lines, you open your mouth to say the magical words: “I would like to buy a nice (necklace/bracelet/watch) for my beloved”—that is to say, you are already purchasing without being aware of it, but the person “assisting” you so far hasn’t shown any indication they’re ready or willing to be of service—and even worse: they’ve done nothing at all to make you feel you’re in the right place, and that you made the right choice in choosing that company in particular.
Of course you feel frustrated, but you avoid showing it, which makes things even more uncomfortable for you. Moreover, when the process is finished (let´s say this assistant succeeded in selling you what you already said you wanted, you recognize a feeling of relief as you’re leaving. You’re left with a sense of “wrongness” inside which is directly associated with the poor level of customer service you just received.
You may think this is unusual in the luxury industry. I’m afraid to tell you it is not. In reality, many luxury companies immediately judge their clients by their characteristics, their race, their origin, the way they speak or move, the way they are dressed, the list is endless. To make things worse, these companies and the people engaged in their sales areas “rely” so much on their brand’s, reputation, tradition, and marketing campaigns that they generally forget to address their auto-critic problem and/or forget to perform periodic research to understand what kind of feedback they receive from their clients to determine how the company is really perceived by their customers.
Discovering and Embracing Excellence
Business owners, especially those in the luxury industry, have countless excuses not to address this lack of attention to their business core. Excuses come in all sizes and colors, and of course the matter of “budget” is one of the most common ones. However, excellence in customer service has more to do with small details, attitude, and true care than huge budgets. People need to feel the excellence in the experience of purchasing from your company (especially if you’re in the business of luxury products or services), or they will choose to take their business elsewhere.
Really, it’s always been that simple.
Are you ready to make the necessary changes to embrace excellence in all areas of your company? If you are, start asking yourself these questions. Answer honestly.
- Am I serving both my internal workers (management, employees) and my external customers (portfolio, target market) with excellence?
- What immediate actions are needed in order to start planning and implementing a service system based on excellence?
- Do our service and our brand actually connect emotionally with our clients? Do we really care about them? If so, how is this reflected in our sales results and growth?
- Am I committed to crafting a customer-oriented service of excellence to make my clients feel special and unique whenever they choose to do business with us?
- How can I learn new strategies for our day-to-day operations that enhance my portfolio of happy and loyal customers?
If you’ve honestly answered these questions and you find that you need to review your “comfort-zone-manner-of-doing-things,” you’re on your way toward excellence. Once you taste it, you will immediately shift your focus toward crafting strategies to offer unexpected value across all areas of your business (internally & externally) and you’ll never want to look back.
Clients will continue to be Kings and Queens—so it’s high time to recognize they are the real rulers in the global business kingdom.