Clienteling Experience: The Art of Personalization to Build Long-term Customer Relationships
May 18, 2023

Clienteling Experience: The Art of Personalization to Build Long-term Customer Relationships

Modern Clienteling is a trend that's become increasingly popular as customers have demanded personalized experiences.

According to Unific (formerly Revenue Conduit), up to 80% of a retailer's sales come from the 20% of their customers that spend the most. This 80/20 phenomenon, known as the Pareto Principle, is a common business principle used to focus efforts on the most important factors, such as loyal customers who spend more, stay longer, and make repeat purchases that increase long-term customer value.

But how do you provide an excellent clienteling experience to your top 20% ensuring that they keep coming back? That’s where modern clienteling comes in…

What is clienteling?

Clienteling is a customer relationship development tool and a way to engage your shoppers on a deeper level, to better understand their needs.

The method originated in luxury retail stores in the early 20th century and has evolved over the years with the rise of technology to become more data-driven and focused on customer experience.

Today, businesses use a variety of tools to perform modern clienteling, such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, conversational commerce software, data analytics, and mobile apps, to collect and analyze customer data and provide personalized service across multiple channels.

As C19 stay-at-home orders changed the way the world shopped, virtual clienteling was born…

What is Virtual Clienteling?

As remote work has become more popular, eCommerce brands have had to shift their operations to support customers shopping from home, a car, an airplane, or even a hammock under a palm tree.

This "work-from-anywhere" trend has led to the development of a new job title - the virtual concierge. Meaning a person who can provide a personalized shopping experience to customers, either online or through virtual channels such as chatbots and SMS... anywhere in the world.

So to reiterate, not only have our shoppers gone global, but our concierges have too!

But these new freedoms have required the development of a new "stack" of virtual concierge tools to help create the same level of incredible customer experiences as before. 

One of them is Humankind. Humankind is a virtual clienteling platform that allows customers 1:1 access to an expert who can walk them through product recommendations, answer their questions, and provide a customized shopping experience.

By leveraging technologies like Humankind, brands can provide customers with shopping experiences tailored to their preferences. Focusing on building stronger relationships with customers usually begins a chain reaction in your business. It starts with increased loyalty, which turns into repeat purchases, and those things boost sales and revenue - not a bad thing in a world where CAC continues to skyrocket.

What does clienteling mean in retail?

Retail clienteling was actually the first iteration of the methodology. When customers walked into a physical "retail" store an associate trained in retail clienteling would size them up and begin to ask them questions about their life.

These questions would be used in the very same way we use data today; to better understand what our customers need.

With advances in technology, today's clienteling is very different, to give you an example…

What is an example of clienteling?

For this example, let's say that you're a triathlete, and you follow a handful of influencers in the space. Recently you saw that one of them posted an Instagram reel about their new race shoe collaboration with Saucony.

Since you're a big fan, you decide to head over to Saucony's eCommerce store to find out if you can purchase their shoe. When you get there, you have some questions about the shoe, so you click the little icon that says text with an expert.

After a couple of questions, a real human expert jumps on a chat with you and after a friendly conversation, they make a few product recommendations based on your preferences.

You end up buying the shoes, a matching pair of training socks, and a wind-breaker for your triathlon, and the remote concierge gives you recommendations on how to break in the shoes, resources on preparing for your triathlon, and lets you know there is an invite-only "meet and greet" with the influencer at a running store near you in a couple of months - just after your big event.

They reach out to you a day or two before the event and wish you good luck, and then a few days after they follow up to see how you did.

This is a great example of how clienteling can be used to create amazing customer experiences, even in an online setting. It’s more like texting a friend than shopping.

There are many other clienteling platforms to choose from, but keep this in mind, clienteling experiences powered by Humankind collect rich customer data that leads to better connections, increased loyalty, and better sales performance.

That’s the power of our platform! But if you're still asking...

Why is Clienteling Important?

Consider this. PwC recently did a study of online shoppers and found that 82% of those surveyed wanted a more human shopping experience. They all added that they would pay more to have people actively involved.

This is a huge departure from Amazon's one-click shopping methodology- and it shows us where the market is headed... personalization.

In today's highly competitive eCommerce landscape, customer loyalty is more important than ever - and acquiring new customers gets more expensive every day. Clienteling is the way you turn customers into repeat buyers, and repeat buyers into raving fans.

What is the difference between customer service and clienteling?

One question I see a lot is, "How is clienteling different from customer service?" I think it's important to note that clienteling and customer service are vastly different things.

While customer service will always be a critical part of retail, it's not designed to deliver the same kind of personalized, data-driven customer experiences that clienteling can. Plus, customer service is measured on levels, i.e. "How good was the service you received? Please rate your level of service from 1 - 5."

Clienteling is measured on impact and responsiveness. How likely is your customer to be excited about interacting with your brand? Are they opening your emails, excited to see what you've SMS messaged them.

It's a completely different approach. So if clienteling isn't customer service...

How does Clienteling work?

Modern clienteling works by collecting and leveraging data to provide customers with personalized experiences that meet their individual needs.

At Humankind, we prefer to collect zero-party data through surveys, quizzes, or other methods and use it to develop insights into their preferences. Data that customers willingly share with us to have a better experience.

We also store the customer's purchase history and preferences to make them accessible to their remote concierge -  who can then use that data to provide the customer with highly targeted, personalized experiences.

Ultimately, it’s about creating an emotional connection with customers through thoughtful conversations and providing them with relevant recommendations and offers at the right place and time.

Now that you know what clienteling is and why it's important, let's talk about...

How to Implement a Clienteling Strategy:

First and foremost, if you try to rush or force this it will seem disingenuous. 

Take your time, collect excellent data, and look for 1- 2% increases at each step... If you can do that, small steps become huge leaps very quickly, and you can increase CVRs by 27- 42% in the process.

  1. Collect and analyze customer data: To personalize your interactions with customers, you need to have a good understanding of who they are and what they want. Collecting and analyzing data such as purchase history, demographics, and communication preferences can help you tailor your approach - it can also help you eliminate recommendations that aren't relevant to them.
  2. Train your staff: Humankind does this for you, in fact, you can have us train internal staff or we can find external experts and train them to serve as a force multiplier for your team, either way, clienteling is a team effort, and it's important to ensure that everyone on your team is on board and equipped with the right skills, tools, and knowledge.
  3. Use technology to your advantage: There are many tools and software available that can help you implement clienteling more efficiently and effectively. The most important one is conversational commerce software by Humankind. This solution will allow you to create a concierge-like relationship with your customers.
  4. Develop a customer-centric approach: Finally, it's important to develop a customer-first approach that takes into account each customer's unique needs and preferences. This can involve things like offering customized recommendations based on purchase history, sending personalized promotions or discounts, or providing a more personalized in-store or online experience.

These things put together, will allow you to create truly personalized shopping experiences that keep your customers coming back for more.

In Conclusion...

There are several reasons why clienteling is still relevant and potentially even more important today than ever before.

First, it helps businesses stand out in a crowded marketplace by creating a more engaging and memorable shopping experience. There are currently 2.5 million online stores in the US alone.

Second, clienteling can help drive customer loyalty and repeat business, which is essential for long-term success.

Third, by leveraging data and technology to provide personalized service, businesses can also improve operational efficiency, streamline sales processes, cut CAC, and ultimately, increase revenue.

Overall, clienteling has become an essential part of modern retail sales, and businesses that embrace it are likely to see significant benefits in terms of customer engagement, loyalty, and revenue.

If you'd like to see how Humankind has helped our customers increase CVRs by more than 27% on average, and more than 42% in specialty apparel, book your demo to chat with someone on our team and see how you can deliver a truly personalized customer experience!

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