uilding customer relationships is challenging. There’s a naturally unbalanced relationship between associates and shoppers. Shoppers are expecting to get sold to, and store associates are pressured to sell. It can feel like building trust takes forever and real engagements are impossible.
It’s no wonder that the relationships between store associates and customers can at times feel strained. In fact, 8 out of 10 shoppers think they know more than store associates, whose main job is the be helpful and knowledgeable. However, there’s a better option. With clienteling, store associates can use data at their fingertips to engage customers in and out of stores. And by directly communicating with customers, store associates can move beyond first impressions to build better relationships, brand loyalty, and store sales.
Build associate–customer relationships sounds nice in theory, but how is it possible in practice? Here are a few tips for building a clienteling program in any store:
At minimum, getting an email at checkout allows you to track in-store and online purchases. Asking for a phone number lets store associates connect with customers outside of the store as well.
When should you ask for contact information? Ideally before ringing up any inventory. The more opportunities to capture contact data, the higher chance that a relationship with a customer can be built.
Asking for contact information at times outside of checkout lets you log interactions in a useful way. Curious about when to ask for contact information?
Here are a few sample instances that are easy wins:
Store associates might be wondering how to authentically communicate, ask questions about customers’ lives, or understand their future needs. It can feel daunting for store associates to reach out to a shopper’s personal cell phone. However, there's no better or more personal way to reach someone than by cell phone. As long as it's done in a natural and honest way, there's nothing wrong with reaching out over a customer's cell phone.
By and large, creating a personal relationship is deeply appreciated by most customers.
Almost 8 out of 10 shoppers say engaging with knowledgeable store associates is important to them. Additionally, 75 percent of customers are happy to have a store associate text them about their order status.
While messages should always be appropriate and brand-related, engaging authentically with a customer over text by providing useful information is appreciated. As long as customers’ lives could be improved by your products, they will feel special and noticed by text messages.
More data makes it easier to send authentic and honest clienteling messages. Here are a few types of in-store interactions to track:
Of course, in the heat of Q4, it’s an impossible ask for store associates to ask each person in the store these questions. During busy periods, it’s okay to get any customer information that store associates have time to request – something is better than nothing. Instead of writing down every single email, work to build a culture around habitually collecting information.
An easy way to do build clienteling into a store culture is to make logging customer information a secondary goal for store associates after selling. It gives store associates permission to engage in productive, but not necessarily closing, activities. If you want a play-by-play of everything you need to know about clienteling, check out our free e-book. It breads down the how and why of clienteling for every brand.
All in all, clienteling can be a secret weapon for store associates, and maybe the edge your brand needs.