Why You Don’t Need to Be a Luxury Brand to Offer a Luxury Experience
Luxury brands pride themselves not just on their products but on the experience they offer their customers. Their customers spend a lot and have significantly higher than average expectations. Certain luxury brand practices, like exclusivity and bespoke offerings, aren’t widely applicable to other markets and industries. However, there is still much to be learned from luxury brands in terms of how they treat their hard-to-please customers and market their brands. Below, we explore a number of practices employed by luxury brands to deliver winning customer experiences and how you can apply them to your business.
Employees as brand ambassadors
The Ritz-Carlton hotel chain is known for its motto, “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” At top hotels, employees are told to put the customer first no matter what. Every employee serves as a customer experience expert and is given the initiative to go above and beyond to give guests the best experience possible. This can be done through actions that make the customer feel like choosing this hotel over a competitor was the right decision.
In luxury retail scenarios, employees don’t aim only to make a sale but to nurture relationships with customers to keep coming back. Employees must be well trained on everything about the brand so that they can communicate the brand’s values and identity to customers. Regardless of industry, having well-trained employees is the key to delivering excellent customer experiences. When staff are polite, friendly and efficient, customers will walk away satisfied and communicate positive things about your brand.
Employees must really know and understand your brand and its products or service. They should have personal experience using various products or services to make informed recommendations and suggestions to customers. This will ultimately help them to make sales and to upsell, particularly in in-person interactions in the retail space. It doesn’t matter if someone is shopping in H&M or Chanel; they want to interact with polite, helpful staff members who are knowledgeable about the brand’s offerings.
Luxury brands strive to make their customers feel special. They add bits of delight wherever they can so and go above and beyond to satisfy customers. But delivering luxury isn’t just about the added bells and whistles. It’s about knowing your customers well and helping them without any hiccups along the way. Luxury businesses, regardless of industry, create strong bonds with their customers. They know their customers’ names, details and purchase histories, and they quickly react to and anticipate their needs. Non-luxury brands tend to have higher traffic and more customers, so staff knowing every customer’s name isn’t feasible, but there are ways to inject this hyper-personalisation into any business.
Having an omnichannel system where all customer data is integrated can help you bring personalisation to your business. You should use personalisation to make it easy for customers to access all the information on their history and account details, whether in-store, online, or speaking to a contact centre agent. Customers have grown to expect this no matter the brand they are dealing with.
Many luxury retailers also offer a personal shopper to advise customers on what items they should buy based on their lifestyle and needs. They give customers expert advice to help them make informed purchasing decisions. Some high street brands have even started offering personal shoppers to help their customers. Virtual shopping assistants are also becoming increasingly popular. It’s a heightened level of personalisation that bonds the customer to the brand but is pretty impractical for most businesses. Alternatively, introduce product recommendations and personalised marketing based on a customer’s historical activity, such as items purchased, level of spend, frequency of spend, search and any feedback they may have provided. This makes the shopping experience more pleasant and easier for customers. 69% of shoppers want personalised experiences, but unfortunately, only 40% of brands are offering them.
Clear, consistent branding
Luxury brands have strongly defined identities, and they know exactly who their customers are. They aim to appeal to an idealised persona based on what their existing customer is interested in and what their potential customers would like to be. Their branding is part of the customer experience of the brand, and it goes down to the most minute details in-store and online. They also do an excellent job of differentiating themselves from their direct competitors due to the specificity and clarity of their branding identity.
Ferrari, for example, consistently balances the elements of pleasure, performance, and style in their products and branding. These three elements make up the brand’s identity as a whole, and they are what they want their customers, or potential customers and fans, to think of when they think of the brand.
Part of this is understanding your target audience. Appeal to those who already love your brand rather than trying to appeal to every potential customer out there. Creating and studying customer personas can help to adjust how you position your brand relative to your competitors.