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What’s the Difference Between Customer Service and Clienteling?

Posted by Amanda McLaughlin on Dec 6, 2021

Customer service has always been a key component of creating a better customer experience. However, many retailers are now turning their attention to clienteling.

Why is clienteling such a big deal for retailers? Is it something your company should be focusing on? Is there even a difference between customer service and clienteling?

We’ll cover the differences and explain why clienteling is a strategy that no retailer should ignore.

What is Clienteling in Retail?

Clienteling is a business strategy that retailers employ to establish and maintain a strong relationship with their customers. They do this by using solutions and tools to provide their sales teams with real-time customer data.

Retail clienteling is all about using that data to give customers a personalized shopping experience to boost their loyalty to your brand and entice them to make more purchases. Other than increasing conversions for retailers, implementing a retail clienteling strategy increases customer lifetime value for brands by creating more upselling opportunities.

The Difference between Customer Service and Clienteling

They might have the same end goal of creating a better customer relationship, but the key difference between customer service and clienteling lies in the way retailers reach that goal.

Customer service relies on face-value information that you have available. On the other hand, clienteling utilizes real-time data to identify what your customers want most, how they interact with your brand, and their attributes like clothing size.

Identifying your customers before checkout gives your sales associates time to influence their purchase decisions. Unfortunately, not all brands have those capabilities today. That means there are many companies missing out on a key opportunity to offer a better customer experience and increase their sales.

Let’s look at the differences between customer service and clienteling in two key areas that affect customer experiences: personalization and brand loyalty.

1. Creating a personalized shopping experience

There’s no arguing that personalization is crucial for retailers—80 percent of shoppers are more likely to do business with a brand if it offers them a personalized experience.

In a traditional customer service sense, store associates don’t usually have much information other than simple data like a customer’s order history. Companies that use clienteling strategies, however, can provide those associates with data about a customer’s behavior, interests, wants and needs. This is the essence of retail clienteling: creating a personalized shopping experience.

For this reason, many retailers are implementing solutions that give store associates access to an array of customer data at their fingertips. The result is a 360-degree view of their customers to offer a more personalized experience.

2. Building better brand loyalty

One of the biggest goals of customer service is to build a loyal customer base. A great customer experience might be all it takes to turn some customers into brand advocates. But clienteling takes building brand loyalty to another level.

The first way clienteling does this is by providing the personalized experience mentioned above. Store associates gain a better understanding of their customers’ wants and needs. This makes it possible for even the biggest retailers to create the experience of shopping at a small mom-and-pop store.

The second way clienteling helps build brand loyalty is by expanding the customer relationship beyond the conventional shopping experience. While your customer service practices might impress customers while they’re in the store, retail clienteling encourages associates to reach out to them after they leave with things like new product recommendations, upcoming promotions, etc. This kind of remote selling facilitates brand advocacy by establishing a meaningful relationship between associates and customers.

Why is Clienteling Important for Retail?

Because online retailers are seeing massive sales increases, offering customers a personalized shopping experience is more important than ever—with the rising popularity of e-commerce comes an even more competitive retail landscape. Customer engagement strategies are key to a retailer’s success, and we’re at a point where strong customer service isn’t enough; clienteling is a necessity in the current environment.

With clienteling tools, retailers can get a better view of their customers’ habits and behaviors to get a competitive edge. It’s also important to implement both in-person and virtual strategies that work together to create a smooth omnichannel experience. That way, customers can move seamlessly from an online conversion to an in-store one (or the other way around). 

One of the biggest reasons clienteling is so important in retail is because it allows sales associates to be more responsive to their customers’ needs. Both in-store and online. Customer data allows them to offer more personalized suggestions, connect and follow up with customers, and gain valuable insights to get customers through their lifecycle faster. Clienteling software analyzes customer data in real-time to help sales teams influence purchases and, ultimately, increase conversions.

Getting Set Up for Success

Customer service remains a necessary component for retail success. However, it can lack the personal touch that clienteling offers. Implementing a clienteling strategy is one of the best ways for retailers to set up their business for success.

Check out how we do it here at NewStore below.

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