think tank

As luxury brands have expanded globally, it has been nearly impossible to maintain an intimate customer relationship in every storefront. Today, luxury retailers are utilizing concierge services to understand customers, and are using this service to create unique custom experiences and essentially drive their “clienteling” and CRM initiatives. The pendulum is swinging back to the times when luxury was truly exclusive.

By returning to the core principle of highly personalized one-to-one customer service and combining it with unforgettable experiences, luxury brands are reaffirming their heritage, prestige and uniqueness. Anything is possible in this new world of luxury. Think along the lines of a high-end jewelry maison privatizing a renowned museum for a client so he can propose to his fiancée in front of a favorite painting.

Luxury retailers are utilizing concierge services, and their data or tools, to understand clients’ hobbies, habits, values, likes and dislikes. This modern-day “client book” allows luxury retailers to take their service to the next level, and then some. While concierge services are not new, today’s concierges are using advanced data analytics and innovative technology to further understand clients, and to home in on specific details for personalized services allowing sales staff to nurture customers in a one-to-one relationship. This level of detail is enabling luxury retailers to intimately understand its clients and to show appreciation pre- and post-purchase, which, in turn, is helping retailers to offer unique experiences and random acts of kindness that reflect both the brand’s aesthetic and complement the client. It means deeper customer engagement leading to higher levels of satisfaction for the client, and for the brands that leverage concierge as part of their customer loyalty strategy, stronger engagement and “brand hospitality.”

Brand Hospitality is the digitally enhanced concierge paired with ACRM, or advanced customer relationship management, which is the next-level CRM. This transforms the way consumers relate to brands, turning a purchase into an experience and this experience into an addiction.

Random Acts of Luxury

One luxury handbag retailer reported that it used a concierge service to gift a random act of luxury, delivering opera tickets to a client’s hotel room after the client mentioned her disappointment at the performance being sold-out during a store visit. Another luxury retailer created a random act of elegance, by organizing a makeup party with the brand’s designer for a cherished client and her friends just before the company’s new color launch. Knowing her well, they’d be sure she would share the experience with her 10,000 followers. One luxury jewelry retailer even sent a random act of romance invitation to a client for a three-star dinner outing, showing appreciation after the client purchased a romantic gemstone ring in its jewelry store.

These “Random Acts of Kindness” demonstrate how concierge services allow luxury retailers to connect on an emotional level with clients pre- and post-purchase while also showing genuine appreciation. It’s no longer about storytelling but “story-living.” Additionally, certain luxury boutiques are utilizing physical concierges who act as local luxury brand ambassadors as they reflect luxury brands’ DNA while also suggesting trending activities for customers to visit and local places to see.

One Luxury Brand Promised a Perfect Proposal

One of the most notable examples of luxury experiences occurred when a luxury jewelry store helped to coordinate a wedding proposal in a museum. Last spring, a client purchased a gorgeous sapphire engagement ring in a luxury jewelry store. The sales associate noticed the brilliant blue sapphire was the exact color as in the painting, “The Great Wave,” by the famous artist, Katsushika Hokusai. The sales team, wanting to ensure the proposal was as dazzling as the purchase, arranged to have a museum tour before the exhibit opened at The British Museum so that the wedding engagement could occur perfectly in front of the painting. Only the concierge has the keys to open the doors of these renowned venues after-hours or during times they are not open to the public.

Private Parties in the Parlor

Luxury retailers such as Louis Vuitton and Tiffany’s are taking their best clients into private apartments or salons on Fifth Avenue and creating exclusive cafés as they re-create luxury styling experiences and personalized events. The apartments are private, secluded from other shoppers, and furnished with the client’s favorite drinks, snacks, amenities, and sometimes even a private chef and decorator. These exclusive appointments are becoming more commonplace, where clients socialize with their favorite sales associates and even invite friends — creating mini-parties.

This is a full-service luxury experience and the client leaves feeling pampered and extra-special, with bags in-hand.

Designer Meet and Greets With Top Customers

Luxury designers and artisans are meeting with their most important clients in special one-on-one meet and greet sessions, as the lines between the customer and the designer are becoming closer. Concierges are discovering that luxury consumers are increasingly interested in craftsmanship, design, heritage and construction. A sales ambassador for a bespoke luxury house noted that one of the fashion house’s customers was particularly interested in a designer’s feathered fall collection, so the concierge arranged a private afternoon tour and a meet-and-greet with the designer’s premier artisanal craftsman responsible for its plumed hat collection. The client left with a personalized, custom-made, literal, feather in her cap.

Luxury retailers are creating one-of-a-kind experiences and services for clients, where the experience and service is becoming even greater than the luxury product itself. The experience is one that everyone will talk about, post to their feeds, and never forget. The experiences are ones that money cannot buy, which encourages clients to indulge in luxury. The experiences are services that are unexpected and unpredictable, which makes them desirable for social media, and for consumers.

Clients never know if they will be selected to receive these exclusive services. Luxury retailers are increasingly creating these one-of-a-kind customer experiences and generating quite a bit of client buzz.

Amber Treshnell is the chief executive officer of Americas at John Paul, a global luxury concierge service working with companies in the banking, automotive, technology and hospitality industries. The company was acquired by AccorHotels in 2016 and is expanding in North America.

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