In a marketplace that is becoming more globally competitive, the ability to generate extra sales is an ever increasing challenge for most store owners.
For many it seems that the only factor that matters to customers is price, and that the only way to gain more business is to buy it. However, as has been repeatedly shown, customers only value price when there is an absence of other important factors – if they can’t differentiate between Store A and Store B then price becomes the pre-dominant motive.
So if customers don’t value price as the primary motivator in their decision making what do they consider? For most shoppers the #1 factor is trust.
Most customers don’t know a diamond from a piece of glass. They are dependent on your reputation when they make their decision to buy. Building this sort of relationship doesn’t come easily. It can be difficult to build this type of rapport in the short term, which means you have already invested a lot of time and energy in the relationship you have with your existing customers.
Given the sizeable investment both you and the customer have made in making this relationship worthwhile for both of you, doesn’t it make sense to make the most of what you have established? Not only for yourself, but also for them. After all, you know yourself that when you find a good hairdresser, plumber or electrician you don’t want to go through the process of searching for another. You have a duty to your customer to help them as much as yourself.
This is the true essence of clienteling. It is a process of helping your customers to achieve their objectives with the minimum of effort, sometimes before they even know they need help.
Let’s give an example. Jim has been married for fifteen years. He forgets his wedding anniversary and although he remembers his wife’s birthday, he never knows what to get her. What he does know is that she doesn’t let him forget it when he fails to buy a present! Thanks to his online calendar Jim can now remember the dates, but he still doesn’t know what to buy and goes into a panic the day before the big occasion.
“Dazzling Diamonds” (not their real name) has been Jim’s wife’s favorite store for the last few years. She has bought and browsed often there. Dazzling has a first class database system which has full records of Jim’s wife’s purchases and records of her important birthdays and anniversaries.
Dazzling is into clienteling. Around two weeks before each special occasion date Dazzling contacts Jim to remind him of the upcoming occasion. This is a great personal service that Jim greatly appreciates as it gives him a heads up well before his calendar reminder.
And it doesn’t stop there. Because of her purchasing history, and what the staff know she has been looking at, Dazzling Diamonds are able to suggest some ideal gift ideas for Jim which they know will be a winner. Jim’s wife, knowing Jim gets contacted, makes a point of calling in to the store a month ahead to point out items that she finds of particular interest which the staff duly note for the record.
The end result? Jim wife is delighted. Jim not only doesn’t forget the special occasion but also manages to buy her something she loves instead of the “helpful household items” he used to bring home, which she would promptly return. Jim is relieved. He not only keeps himself from getting in trouble, he has also dealt with the issue of handing the decision over to the people who know best. He has even built such a good relationship with the sales staff that he will often give the staff member his budget when they call and leave them to choose the item and have it gift wrapped ready for him to collect, saving him time and stress.
What about Dazzling Diamonds? Since adopting their clienteling policy they have seen same customer sales increase by over 40% for their best 100 customers, and their overall store performance go up by almost 15%. They have even had contact from friends of their best clienteling customers asking if they can be included on the reminder list. When was the last time your customers called asking to be sold to?
In an age where increasing sales is becoming ever more challenging, the need to build a closer relationship with your best customers has never been greater. It is a service you owe yourself and your customers if you truly hope to grow your business.
David Brown is President of the Edge Retail Academy, an organization devoted to the ongoing measurement and growth of jewelry store performance and profitability. For further information about the Academy’s management mentoring and industry benchmarking reports contact email@example.com or call 877-569-8657.