Clienteling best practices: Top 5 Tips and Don'ts for your retail strategy

Learn clienteling best practices with these straightforward tips.

man on phone with computer clienteling with Endear

Clienteling continues to become an ever-more important part of every omnichannel retailer's strategy. Why? Because as customers continue to diversify how they shop, modern-day clienteling is one of best ways to continue to deliver top-notch service across multiple customer touchpoints, enhancing customers' overall shopping experience. We've written loads about clienteling, including a basic explanation of what it is - but today we're going to summarize it all into five very basic do's and don'ts. All of these tips are easily and readily deployable through Endear but, even without Endear, still make for good protocol. You can always keep learning more about clienteling on our website.

Top 5 Do's of Clienteling

Any modern clienteling program will incorporate these five elements:

1. Always call customers by their names.

If you don't even know a customer's name, you can safely assume you aren't really clienteling. Before CRM solutions like Endear came along, the tricky part was reaching a broad customer audience without giving up that human connection (lots of BCC'ing makes for a bad customer experience). But with features in Endear like dynamic fields, it's easy to reach a whole swath of customers without giving up the personal touch that comes with addressing someone by name.

2. Do your research.

You should always head into outreach with some context or history about the customer. Even if you don't necessarily reference this history in your message, It's good to have in your back pocket for future conversations. There should always be a reason why you're reaching out that doesn't feel too spammy.

3. Collaborate with your teammates.

If your brand has multiple stores, it is very possible customers are talking to your peers at other locations. The last thing you want is to overwhelm customers with outreach, so Endear makes it easy to check in with teammates about who they're talking to and the content of their messages. With Endear's collaborative notes and tasks, it's easy for everyone to update customers' profiles with the latest news and insights. And of course, our handy filters also automatically prevent customers from receiving too many messages in a short period of time (24 hours, to be exact).

4. Personalize the sales experience.

Did you know only 39% of retailers send personalized product recommendations in their emails? Yet 77% of consumers choose, prefer, and recommend brands that offer a personalized service or experience. As a salesperson, you likely know much more about your brand's customers than the marketing team, so take advantage of the intel and insights you have to deliver a clienteling experience like no one else.

77% of customers choose, prefer, and recommend brands that offer a personalized service or experience.

5. Give them a way to reach you (and not someone else).

As more brands become omnichannel, it can be frustrating for customers to get passed around to different people based on what they need. They may speak to a different customer success person depending on the issue they are having, or they may meet someone new at the store the next time they go. By incorporating a direct phone or email address where customers can reach you into your clienteling strategy, you'll give them more confidence about making another purchase and ensure that they come to you for everything.

Top 5 Don'ts of Clienteling

Just like there are clienteling behaviors to embrace, there are also behaviors to avoid. Whether for the sake of your customers, your operations, or your general team spirit, avoiding these activities will help your retail team succeed.

1. Don't let the channel get in the way.

In the age before e-commerce ("pre-commerce", if you will) when stores were the only channel available for purchasing, salespeople knew if their customers purchased. But until Endear started tracking omnichannel sales, many associates were only comfortable encouraging customers to buy in-store, in order to ensure that their role in the conversion was properly recognized. But both brands and salespeople alike should encourage sales to happen regardless of location or channel. Don't let attribution get in the way of your closing a sale.

2. Don't make everything about a sale.

Make sure that your outreach is well-balanced between check-ins, thank-you's, promotions, and recommendations. If you know your client just got back from a trip, reach out to see how it went. Good clienteling comes from relationship-building, not product pushing.

3. Don't be shy.

Not all customers have bold personalities, but that doesn't mean they aren't interested in your help. Consider reaching out to first-time buyers or first-time store visitors and introducing yourself. They may feel more comfortable getting to know your brand through a human resource. With a proper CRM, you'll be in a better position to locate customers who could benefit from personal attention rather than relying on those who you recognize most easily.

4. Don't lose track.

If you are reaching out to customers, make sure you're staying on top of communication. It's a big missed opportunity and certainly a poor experience for your customers if they respond to your message only to get radio silence in return. Be sure to stay on top of your communication. Apps like Endear even offer a mobile experience that lets you take your clienteling on the go so nothing falls through the cracks.

5. Don't get competitive.

We've heard horror stories about customers not getting service in a store because they were the client of someone who wasn't working that day - the rest of the team was scared to speak to them! This approach to clienteling creates unnecessary animosity in the workplace, not to mention poor service for the customer. Your store team and teams at other locations may share clients, and that's okay! Overlapping clientbases can help to ensure that the customer receives the best service and that everyone has the latest insight into her preferences and needs.

Clienteling is certainly part art and part science - while data that should drive your decisions and your content, soft skills like relationship-building, tact, and of course, closing a sale are also critical to the success of any program. The more you can formalize your brand's clienteling strategy, the more confidence your team will have in executing on a grand scale.

Did all of this seem obvious? You must be a clientling whiz!

Find out how your clienteling skills rank by taking our clienteling quiz. Those who pass receive a clienteling certification from Endear that they can add to their resume and share on Linkedin.