This is the first in a series of articles by Mónica Arias of Excellence Consulting, a luxury sales and marketing consulting firm based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. These articles will focus on ways that sales and marketing professional in the jewelry and luxury industry can improve their techniques.
So much has been said about improving customer service during the past decades that, given the global exposure of firms on the Internet and the world economic turmoil, one could easily assume this issue does not exist anymore simply because in theory, companies should have learned enough from the tough lessons associated with a poor customer assistance in the past.
Unfortunately, the problem not only persists but it has also become a real challenge to overcome, especially in the retail arena, and more specifically, in the luxury retail industry where excellence is non negotiable.
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, they should be put into practice just for the sake of business survival. Whether small or large, a company that provides luxury services or products that does not excel in customer service, even through small details, is paving the road to hell.
Let me give you an example: let´s imagine you may be inclined to get a lovely piece of jewelry for your beloved. The idea warmed up for a while in your head and the decision is finally made to visit a renowned jewelry store. You step in, confident that you will be received like a King—after all this is a shop you do not put your feet into everyday as it is the supermarket or any retail store you visit with certain frequency. Instead, you just get what I call “a scanning look” and someone with unforgettable body language clearly indicates you are not especially welcomed, even with a slight smile on their face. Believe me, you do not actually “see” this, but you clearly feel it.
You may think this is unusual in the luxury industry. It is my duty to tell you it is not. Reality shows that many luxury companies judge their clients either by their aspects, their race, their origin, the way they speak or move, they way they are dressed, and the list is endless. Moreover, they “rely” so much on their brands, reputation, tradition and marketing campaigns that they generally forget self-criticism and/or periodic research to understand what kind of feedback they receive from clients, how are they being perceived and, most importantly, if their customers really like them.
Prejudice, unwillingness, lack of enthusiasm, poor or inexistent customer oriented training, payment systems that do not work properly after the sale is done, salespeople who are not trained in the appropriate way to offer a service of excellence to customers, the lack of a system to build trust and loyalty is only part of the problem.
Business owners and salespeople in the luxury segment 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 care than huge budgets.
People need to feel the great experience of having purchased with you, and you need to acknowledge that the sales process has evolved, so you need to learn how to transcend your clients` expectations by providing the excellence service they deserve. Always.
Mónica M. Arias is a luxury sales and marketing specialist and a Spanish and English translator. She has spent 15 years experience working in a variety of sales marketing positions for several multinational companies. She is skilled in advanced sales techniques and is a proven expert in person-to-person interaction—both commercial and personal. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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