The Power of Modern Clienteling in eCommerce: Empower your Product Experts and Drive Key Metrics
May 17, 2023

The Power of Modern Clienteling in eCommerce: Empower your Product Experts and Drive Key Metrics

Clienteling, also known as the practice of building and maintaining personalized relationships with customers, has been around for centuries. The origins of clienteling can be traced back to the early days of commerce when merchants would build relationships with their customers through face-to-face interactions and personalized service.

What is Clienteling?

"Clienteling" is the practice of building and maintaining personalized relationships with customers - we covered this basic definition in the previous section- but it's actually far more complex than the definition implies.

True clienteling involves gathering data on customer preferences and buying behaviors, using that data to create personalized shopping experiences for the customers, and nurturing those relationships over time.

Why clienteling matters in today's retail landscape?

Today, as consumers grow tired of interacting with chatbots and automated NLP (natural language processing) tools, and factors like COVID-19 push many into isolation, the need for 1:1 human connection is resurging…

And, conversational commerce software companies like Humankind have stepped up to the plate to provide an answer for eCommerce companies striving to deliver personalized shopping experiences at scale.

With the rise of eCommerce and online shopping, clienteling has become an essential strategy for retailers looking to build long-term customer relationships and drive sales - especially high-ticket sales of high-consideration goods.

How Does Clienteling Work?

Historically, a great example of clienteling would've been the custom suitmaker who knew all of the shopper's dimensions by heart, knew which fabrics and colors they preferred, and could have a new suit ready in a matter of days. This type of shopping experience meant that families would shop with one tailor for several generations.

So why does clienteling matter in eCommerce? The answer is simple: it can drive sales and build customer loyalty in the same way as that generational tailor. By providing personalized experiences and tailored recommendations, retailers can increase customer satisfaction and encourage customers to make repeat purchases.

Some of the key benefits of clienteling include increased customer engagement, higher conversion rates, and improved customer retention. Additionally, clienteling can help retailers stand out in a crowded eCommerce landscape, where consumers are often overwhelmed by choice and looking for personalized guidance. By treating customers as individuals and providing personalized experiences, retailers can create a competitive advantage and thrive in the digital marketplace of today's competitive eCommerce landscape.

Before we move to "the how" of clienteling, there are definite downsides... in fact, we have a whole list of them here.

Clienteling vs. Customer Service: What's the Difference?

Customer service has always been part of enhancing the customer experience. But currently, most eCommerce stores focus more on UX/UI than the interactions shoppers have with your brand at each touch-point along the customer's journey.

You may be thinking, we already focus on customer service - how are Clienteling and Customer Service different?

Customer service is largely transactional. It focuses on problem-solving and helping customers achieve their desired outcomes, such as refunds or returns. In contrast, clienteling involves building relationships with customers that focus on enhancing the customer experience beyond transaction points. It's more about creating a personalized connection with each individual customer and engaging them in meaningful ways than making a sale.

How to Build a Clienteling Strategy

Now that you understand that there are upsides AND downsides to this concept, let's talk about how to build an effective modern clienteling strategy.

A well-crafted clienteling strategy can ultimately improve customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention- so there are many benefits to taking this approach. Long-term, clienteling can lower CAC (customer acquisition costs), and increase LTV (lifetime customer value) dramatically.

If you're currently building your clienteling strategy, here's where we'd recommend that you begin:

  1. Identifying the right audience: The first step in building a clienteling strategy is to identify the correct target audience. Your ideal customer has certain demographics, behaviors, wants and needs - starting with a solid ICP is step #1.
  2. Collecting customer data: The next step is to collect customer data that helps you understand your target audience better. Zero-party data is the information that customers voluntarily share with businesses and it's some of the best information you can use to improve the customer experience- such as their preferences, interests, and contact details. Humankind's conversational commerce software collects zero-party data through quizzes, surveys, and customer interactions - this step is crucial to building a personalized experience for customers.
  3. Developing customer personas: Once businesses have collected customer data, they can use it to create customer personas that allow brands to articulate their customer's wants and needs. A customer persona is a fictional representation of the target audience that helps businesses understand their buying habits, preferences, and behavior.
  4. Creating a personalized experience for customers: The final step is to create a personalized shopping experience for customers. This can be achieved by using customer data to tailor marketing messages, recommendations, bundles, and promotions that meet their specific needs. This level of personalization is often what enhances customer loyalty and retention.

By using the steps above and adopting a clienteling approach, businesses can improve vital metrics that ultimately lead to long-term success.

How to Use Clienteling in eCommerce

Once you've built your clienteling strategy, how do you use it? If you look back at your last negative shopping experience, it was probably because you experienced a pain point somewhere along the buyer's journey. Whether it was a lack of product information, difficulty finding the right size, your preferred color was out of stock, or there were shipping and delivery issues - either way, you didn't get what you wanted when you wanted it.

Businesses can use clienteling to solve these problems and improve customer satisfaction by using conversational commerce software. Humankind allows real human experts to provide customers with tailored recommendations, personalized messages, real-time answers to their questions during the shopping experience as well as timely follow-up with additional promotions, bundles, and special offers - delivering the value your customers crave.

This understanding of the customer's behavior, needs, and preferences leads to a personalized shopping experience that "humanizes" eCommerce and allows online brands to deliver excellent customer experiences.

Benefits of Clienteling for Retailers

Clients are offered several advantages by companies who focus on clienteling. First, they're often "wowed" by the fact that the brand would put effort into building a relationship with them. Second, clienteling creates rich insights that can help you create a better brand that also better serves your customers.

Let us talk about some of the business benefits of implementing clienteling.

Rich Product Information

In today's data-driven world, it's critical to know your clientele. Understanding their demographics, psychographics, geography, wants, needs, preferences, and interests can help you build better avatars to market to. This information leads to the creation of better products and ensures customers are getting exactly what they need every time.

Increased Loyalty & Retention

When you have this rich data, and you build your products and customer experience around the needs of your customers, you drive loyalty and retention - these two metrics decrease CAC and increase the probability that your customer will come back and buy more... increasing LTV, which increases sales.

Increased Sales

Repeat business increases sales. Customer experiences directly correlate with sales. The better a brand's satisfaction (CSAT) the greater the chance that a customer would return for another one. 

When a consumer becomes more interested in a particular brand and has an excellent purchase experience, they become brand ambassadors. The result could increase sales- dramatically. 

…AND reduce your acquisition costs. Researchers estimate that selling to new clients costs 5X more than selling to existing customers - so this is key to the bottom line.

What are The Best Tools for Effective Clienteling?

If you think about your entire workflow, what are the core tools that you need to run an eCommerce store effectively? Your tech stack is a collection of software tools and technologies that businesses use to manage and optimize their e-commerce operations - here are the top tools we recommend:

  1. E-commerce platform: The foundation of any e-commerce tech stack is your e-commerce platform. This software enables brands to build and manage their online store and serve customers. There are many e-commerce platforms available, the three that we recommend are Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento (now Adobe Commerce) - each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, but overall they provide a world-class experience. When choosing the platform that best suits your needs, consider factors such as ease of use, scalability, and customizability.
  2. Payment gateway: A payment gateway is a service that enables businesses to process online payments securely. Customers expect a smooth and hassle-free checkout experience, and any issues with payment processing can lead to cart abandonment. Popular payment gateways include PayPal, Stripe, and Square.
  3. Customer relationship management (CRM) software: CRM software enables businesses to manage their customer interactions and relationships. This includes tools for managing customer data, tracking customer behavior, and automating marketing and sales processes. The current top performer in the CRM category is Salesforce.
  4. Analytics and tracking tools: To optimize their e-commerce operations, businesses need to track and analyze customer behavior and website performance. This requires analytics and tracking tools such as Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, and Mixpanel, which provide insights into customer behavior, traffic sources, and conversion rates.
  5. Marketing automation tools: Marketing automation tools enable businesses to automate their marketing campaigns, such as email marketing, social media marketing, and retargeting. Popular marketing automation tools include Mailchimp, Klaviyo, and Marketo.

Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, Salesforce, and several of the other platforms mentioned above integrate directly with Humankind creating a seamless ecosystem from your desktop or mobile eCommerce store to SMS allowing you to keep up with customers wherever they are and converse in a way that's convenient for them.

What are the Best Practices for Clienteling?

If you think about it, creating an amazing shopping experience isn't hard - in fact, it's more about "Delivering Happiness" as Tony Hsieh former CEO of Zappos used to say…

One of the best practices to deliver this experience is by building trust and rapport with customers. This involves taking the time to get to know each customer, their preferences, and their shopping habits. People desire to be seen and known, especially in a world where they can project anything on social media, they want to know they're spending their money with companies who make an effort.

Effective communication is also key to successful clienteling. Retailers must be proactive in communicating with their customers, whether through a remote concierge, via email, social media, or in-store interactions. Communication should be timely, relevant, and tailored to each customer's preferences - and doesn't stop at the purchase. Good communication means follow-up.

Think about the last time you went on a trip and someone who you hadn't seen in a while asked about it. You probably lit up, maybe you shared some pictures and talked about the activities you did and the food you ate, either way, you knew they cared - follow-up is the same thing for your customers.

Another best practice for successful clienteling is encouraging repeat purchases. Retailers can do this by offering personalized recommendations, rewards, incentives, and my personal favorite, product bundles for loyal customers. These opportunities to make additional purchases that add value to what customers already purchased can turn one-time buyers into loyal brand advocates.

Finally, measuring success and optimizing clienteling efforts is crucial for ongoing improvement. Retailers should track metrics such as CSAT (customer satisfaction), repeat purchase rate, and AOV (average order value to identify areas for improvement. They can then use this data to optimize their clienteling strategies and ensure that they are delivering the best possible experience to their customers.

The Future of Clienteling in eCommerce

Clienteling is a powerful tool for building lasting customer relationships and boosting sales in the retail industry. Product experts and brands (powered by Humankind) who practice effective clienteling can create a personalized shopping experience for customers, leading to higher customer satisfaction, repeat purchases, and increased customer lifetime value.

To empower product experts and sales teams with the necessary tools to succeed, clienteling solutions are becoming more prevalent in the conversational commerce landscape. Platforms like Humankind allow brands to collect and access real-time customer data, such as past purchases and preferences, which can be used to create personalized experiences for each customer. With this information, associates can tailor their interactions and recommendations to meet the individual needs of each customer.

By providing superior convenience and customer service, brands can increase sales and compete with entrenched competitors, build stronger relationships, and collect valuable insights into the customer's behavior which pays dividends over the entire customer lifecycle.

In conclusion,

The benefits of clienteling are clear - personalized experiences lead to loyal relationships and repeat business. By using client data to create a special shopping experience, retailers can establish long-term relationships with their most valuable clients, ultimately increasing their average order value and securing a competitive edge in the market.

In summary, clienteling is a powerful practice for maximizing modern customer experiences, and eCommerce stores should empower their teams with clienteling tools to establish personalized relationships with customers, increase customer lifetime value, and boost sales within the shopping experience.

If you're currently assessing your clienteling strategy and have identified gaps you'd like to fill, book your demo of Humankind to see how we can help you create 1:1 human connections with your customers, collect better data, and create incredible shopping experiences.

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