This week we’d like to delve further into the idea of insight-driven customer engagement strategies otherwise known as clienteling.
If you missed our first blog post on the subject, the concept basically boils down to a system by which customers are compelled to return to your store as a result of exceptional in-store experiences. What is less apparent to the customer is the fact that such experiences don’t simply appear out of thin air—they’re very much the end result of a measured and fine-tuned process.
This process however is not a one-size-fits-all series of steps. It’s a fluid system tied to customer expectations. As we’ve explained before, providing quality customer experience is becoming more and more a task requiring investment in omnichannel integration and development. As customers continue to become self-taught experts about the products they seek, retailers must increasingly rely on a stable and accessible network of channels that their customers can use to interact with the brand in a convenient way.
When this kind of multilayered customer experience strategy combines with traditional clienteling, “social clienteling” is born.
What is social clienteling?
If we think of omnichannel customer experience strategies as a series of connected paths your customers can use to access your brand, social clienteling is the brand using those paths to access the customers.
While omnichannel integration commonly translates to making the shopping process easier for the customer by creating a more accessible shopping ecosystem, social clienteling allows the company to utilize this ecosystem to better understand what their customers like and dislike. This data can then be used to tailor a more personalized experience for each customer.
Chasing the 360-degree customer profile
Consumers today don’t make their shopping habits a secret. Online reviews, mobile product research, social shopping networks, and on-the-go price comparisons are all increasingly being used by consumers to get what they want at the best possible price while communicating their shopping trends on a number of channels.
According to a study conducted by Gartner, as many as “75% of customers will tell their friends about good or band shopping experiences using social media in 2015.”
This kind of traceable data can be collected and analyzed by retailers to create customized client profiles that can then be used to inform store associates on exactly what a returning customer has liked, purchased, returned, or disliked in the past. This kind of “360-degree” customer profile is perhaps one of the most useful tools retailers can leverage to meet the expectations of the increasingly empowered customer.
The benefits of such systems serve both the customer and the company in a number of ways:
- Customer satisfaction increases as a result of better product relevancy and recommendations.
- Retailers enjoy increased customer loyalty as a result of successful clienteling effort
- Customers receive a better overall customer experience through personalized service, convenience, and time saved.
- Retailers enjoy employee satisfaction and productivity as a result of better relationships with customers
How to begin implementing social clienteling
While no two companies will ever have a strategy that looks exactly the same, it’s important to understand that omnichannel integration is an essential ingredient of social clienteling. Without a foundational network of paths for reaching out to customers, you’ll simply have nowhere from which to begin collecting data.
In practical terms, this means organizing store and product processes through technological means that customers can readily access from a number of devices. Store staff as well as other company employees who are directly involved with customer interactions much have a fundamental understanding of clienteling and cross-channel interaction.
Specifically for the technological side of the equation, digital customer databases, social media management and monitoring tools, analytical tools and customer relationship management systems all work together to make data as accessible and actionable as possible. There must also be an understanding that such systems require constant updating and reorientation as customer expectations shift.