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Creating a Boutique Experience to Improve CX

New Techniques Around Engagement, Technology and Exclusivity Drive Loyalty and Brand Evangelism

boutique customer experience

Luxury goods and services traditionally have been differentiated from their mass-market cousins via enhanced marketing, purchasing, and service experiences that are designed to align with the brand’s prestige and positioning. Many of these elements are reflected in the physical spaces where the products are sold, which are sometimes referred to as boutiques, showrooms, or studios, as compared with the more pedestrian-sounding “stores” or “markets.” Further, all the interactions and customer touchpoints are specifically tuned to ensure each customer’s experience reflects the premium status of the brand or service.

That said, companies selling mass-market goods and services can borrow the concepts behind these high-end approaches to CX, if not to sell more expensive products, but to engender greater customer loyalty and drive brand evangelism. Most of the techniques discussed here can be used across a wide range of products, services, and industries, and do not require a complete reworking of most front-line processes.

Know and engage with your customers

People like to feel important, and recognizing them as individuals goes a long way to ensuring they feel noticed and important. Train sales staff to ask customers their names when interacting with them, as it creates a more personal, one-on-one interaction. For existing customers that have opted into marketing programs, ensure that all communications are specifically tailored to them in a granular way.

Instead of simply sending emails that state their name, include specific details from their last interaction (such as the products they were looking at, or, if possible, any details captured from in-person conversations or digital chats). While capturing these insights takes a bit more time, the insights gleaned will not only help build affinity with customers, but also help you more accurately pinpoint their product or service needs.

Leverage technology

High-end brands have typically been early adopters of technology, both in-person and online, to create a more impressive or memorable experience. Many of these tools that were once quite expensive to deploy have become commodities, and are incorporated in a variety of software applications or platforms that are specifically designed to help improve CX.

High-definition, two-way video is perhaps the most obvious way to provide a boutique-level experience with customers. For example, instead of simply describing a vintage or limited-edition item via a voice call or via email, using a two-way video link allows customers to get a personalized inspection of an item (think high-end, classic car, a limited-edition or vintage musical instrument, or a tour of a prospective home or apartment) at their convenience. Further, that video session can and should be saved and delivered to the customer as a reminder of the excellent, personalized service they have received from you and your company.

Another way to leverage technology is to offer automated scheduling of private appointments, which can let users select the time and date for an appointment, instead of queuing in a line. Further, the technology can often be customized to match specific company personnel with timeslots, thereby providing a way for customers to get a personalized experience without the friction of going back and forth to reconcile schedules. Special VIP slots can also be reserved for particularly loyal customers, or those that meet certain criteria (such as providing spots solely reserved for military veterans or senior citizens).

Provide access to exclusive events

Some credit card companies have partnered with concert promoters, venues, and other entertainment companies to provide pre-sale access to in-demand events to cardholders. In addition to providing an incentive for non-cardholders to apply for an account, the segmentation of customers from non-customers naturally creates affinity among the in-group, thereby raising the profile and prestige of the card product.

This approach can be used within an organization as well, though it needn’t be simply about segmenting frequent or high-value customers from ‘regular’ customers. Instead, consider providing exclusive access to specific in-store events, online content, or other premium services for each category of customer or product, so it is both attainable and exclusive.

For example, create a VIP event for customers who spend above a certain dollar amount within the beauty and cosmetics category. Further enhance the benefit for customers who consistently spend each month, and you will not only see revenue increase, but also affinity.

That said, the VIP reward must have real value to the customer. This does not need to be a flashy, expensive event, but should be an offer they cannot get anywhere else. Using the beauty example, providing these customers with a one-on-one beauty consultation, along with a “swag bag” of hard-to-find items can provide that VIP-level prestige many customers are seeking.

Author Information

Keith has over 25 years of experience in research, marketing, and consulting-based fields.

He has authored in-depth reports and market forecast studies covering artificial intelligence, biometrics, data analytics, robotics, high performance computing, and quantum computing, with a specific focus on the use of these technologies within large enterprise organizations and SMBs. He has also established strong working relationships with the international technology vendor community and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and events.

In his career as a financial and technology journalist he has written for national and trade publications, including BusinessWeek, CNBC.com, Investment Dealers’ Digest, The Red Herring, The Communications of the ACM, and Mobile Computing & Communications, among others.

He is a member of the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP).

Keith holds dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Magazine Journalism and Sociology from Syracuse University.

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