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five myths about clienteling

Jun 18, 2021

5 Myths About Clienteling We Need to Forget

Don't let these myths stop you from using a modern clienteling program to grow your business.

By Leigh Sevin, Co-Founder @ Endear

Clienteling is a tricky word that means many things to many people. For some, its a completely foreign term altogether! We've talked a lot about what clienteling is - so now we're going to talk about what it's not, by debunking many of the myths that surround it. If clienteling seems out-of-reach or intimidating, you've probably got the wrong picture.

So let's break down the top five myths about Clienteling, and share a bit more truth about where it fits in the world of modern retail.

5 Myths about Clienteling We Should Leave Behind

1. Clienteling is slow and manual

Even today, when people picture clienteling, a vision of thick black binders, manual record-keeping, and phone calls may come to mind. But thanks to a surge in new retail technology, clienteling has become dramatically more efficient and manageable for teams of all sizes. It's true that in the past, even the best clienteling programs may have relied on pen and paper to keep track of customers and record interactions, but any good modern solution should be able to provide all of that data to you in real time by connecting to other resources like your POS. So if you're worried that clienteling is going to be too burdensome for your team - think again, and start exploring the modern world of clienteling solutions like Endear.

2. Clienteling is just for VIPs

Reserving your clienteling efforts for just your top customers is like preaching to the choir - while VIPs are an important subsection of your customers, you should also use clienteling practices to nurture relationships with customers who are newer to your brand. You can certainly tailor your clienteling program to suit different tiers of customer loyalty and engagement, but a robust clienteling program will take all customers into consideration, from those who have just recently made their first purchase, to those with years of spending behind them.

3. Clienteling only works at high price points

While clienteling may have originated in the luxury fashion space, it has become a vital customer engagement strategy for brands across price points and retail verticals. Indeed, how much your items cost should not be the determining factor of whether or not clienteling could be an effective strategy for your business. Clienteling as a term describes building direct relationships with customers as a way to increase their loyalty, so if you can recall any customers by name, or know anything about your customers' lives, clienteling may be a great fit for you and your sales team. One way to find out - ask your sales associates whether they find themselves talking to customers on their own already. Often these relationships can emerge organically. If so, then that is a trend you should lean into by formalizing a clienteling program for your team.

Clienteling Covers a Broad Spectrum

We work with brands across a variety of price points, all of whom have invested in clienteling as a growth strategy. Check out what brands like Gorjana and Wildfang have to say about how Endear has helped them put the right strategies in place.

4. Clienteling is the same as marketing

Clienteling and marketing are both very important to retail, but they also serve very distinct functions, especially if you're an omnichannel brand. While marketing will take a more mass, one-way approach to customer outreach, clienteling lives under the sales department, meaning that the focus should be on personalization and relationship building. While marketing is often tasked with reaching everyone, a clienteling program should produce unique experiences for customers that result in a strong rapport. If that means scaling down your target audience, that's okay.

5. Clienteling only works for physical stores

Most retail salespeople function within the confines of a store, even if they are communicating with customers over remote channels like email and text. These same folks are often the ones in charge of clienteling customers and building relationships. However, with the rise of e-commerce, it's become clear that "salesperson" and "store associate" no longer have to be synonymous. In fact, because of the limitations of e-commerce, many brands have expanded their sales team in order to clientele online-only customers in order to compensate for those customers' inability to try before buying. Especially if you don't operate stores, clienteling may be a great way to increase website conversion rates and give customers more confidence about purchasing without interacting with a product in-person first.

As the retail industry continues to modernize, it's important not to get stuck in the mindset of a pre-covid, "pre-ecommerce" era. With the right tools and the right attitude, clienteling is a strategy that can work for nearly any brand - all you need is a love for your customers.