Not only is service a brand differentiator, it’s just as important as the product itself. Offering service that is both human and connected will drive product value and transform customers into advocates.
The grassroots of service: getting staff engaged
Smart, uplifting and meaningful interactions, that focus on service and not sales, create lifetime value for brands. 68 per cent would change brands after encountering indifferent staff (White House Office of Consumer Affairs – Tarp, 2017), so it is paramount that brands translate brand values into brand behaviours. Spruce Bot helps track customer interactions, equipping staff to talk to customers about their life events, rather than simply what they bought last visit. John Lewis is investing in retail theatre at Westfield London, as over 500 of staff have been trained by the National Theatre to help Partners engage and inspire customers.
The human touch: just what you need, when you need it
The complexity in getting service right is that it doesn’t look the same for each customer. 78 per cent of customers are more likely to be loyal after a personalised experience (Adobe, 2018). Sephora offers free classes to help those dealing with body dysmorphia, taught by the brand’s own transgender employees. Recognising staff expertise and the unique insight they have into this particular demographic positions the brand to provide invaluable support, and really show its commitment to customers.
The genius factor: driving loyalty and advocacy
Speaking to customers’ emotional needs is essential to building brand loyalty; the number one reason people feel emotionally connected to a brand is ‘they make me feel like they care about me’ (Customer Thermometer, 2017). Service gestures can be as simple as a surprise bouquet from fashion brand Zappos, to a cup of your favourite coffee from You Move Me on moving day. If delivered in a way that feels genuine they will help build true relationships with customers and drive brand advocacy.
Finding a balance: human and connected service
Brands need to remain service led, despite increased automation in stores. As Brand Strategy Director Geoff Wilson explains, “The rule for any brand is that tech should be in service to a human experience and not the other way around, tech isn’t a solution on its own”. For Amazon’s Treasure Truck, Household created digital interactions based on the brand’s signature 5-star intuitive language to offer a different experience every visit, combining the brand personality with a moment of fun. Instead of reducing tech touchpoints to a moment of transaction, brands need to ensure digital interfaces convey the brand personality and forge an emotional connection with customers.
Images courtesy of Sephora, Sprucebot, You-Move-Me, and Amazon.