The difference between Customer Service & Clienteling

By Lee Adams, Sales Lead – KIT

Regardless of where a customer goes to make a purchase, whether it be an out-of-town superstore, a plush City of London arcade or a Covent Garden boutique, the expectation is that the service provided will always be a good experience. As consumers, we even expect the local corner shop to be courteous and helpful when we pop in for a pint of milk.

As a nation of shopkeepers, according to the now infamous quote attributed to Napoleon, the UK is well-positioned to appreciate the value and importance of customer service. Although to fully understand customer service, it needs to be defined – it cannot just be experience for experience’s sake. So, is it a philosophy, a value, or a way of life? As without it, where would the retail sector be today?

Nevertheless, we recognise where the retail sector is today, and we also know what is happening to help boost sales and recover by building customer loyalty – Clienteling. But how is this different from customer service? Once purely the preserve of luxury stores, it is becoming more prevalent wherever there is a one-to-one interaction in the sale. Look at the definition: Clienteling is a technique that allows retailers to improve the shopping experience by personalising the interactions they have with customers.

Knowing your customers 

If we view customer service as a philosophy, it is a shared mission. A set of principles Store Associates should follow so they can uphold the core values of the business. Clienteling takes the same approach offering more, much more.

Clienteling is an extension of customer service, making the interaction more personal and long term. To witness this in action, look at one of the historical mainstays of customer service – the famed Little Black Book. Store Associates have used these notepads to record treasured information on their top clients, helping them maintain and even increase sales. But Clienteling technology tools make this all available on mobile devices with a simple tap on a screen.

Clienteling tools give Store Associates access to a 360-degree real-time view of a customer’s purchasing history, interactions, notes and appointments. Valuable information that will help to drive and predict future sales. Clienteling also allows customers to select their preferred communication method, permitting Store Associates to keep customers up to date with new product information, product lines and even collate and suggest outfits based on their purchasing history.

Managing customer expectations in the new normal 

There has been a seismic shift to online shopping here in the UK, according to the Deloitte Retail Trends 2021 Report. It states that during the four weeks following January 2021, 57% of consumers are planning to purchase clothing online, with 28% saying it will food shop online. It has become clear that new consumer behaviour is disrupting the physical retail sector, with UK online sales in December 2020 up by 45% to £15bn, as listed in the Deloitte report.

Both Clienteling (and Assisted Selling) are equally important – regardless of supporting a customer remotely or sitting by their side. Indeed, being able to have video communication, share images and social media recommendations is no longer ‘nice to have’ – it is essential. Whereas Customer service and Clienteling are interwoven – we couldn’t have one without the other, but Clienteling tools, like KIT, bring the technology edge to the Little Black Book.

Any retailer can deploy the tools, which are as easy to use as the phone in your pocket, giving the business the help needed to clear a path through the storm that lies ahead.