By Elizabeth Zelesny
February 16, 2011
A study by The Luxury Institute finds that Burberry and Bottega Veneta excel far better than other companies at having enthusiastic brand ambassadors in their stores who are interested in helping customers.
This was one of the key findings of the report titled, “Leading edge insights into the world of the wealthy.” Mystery shoppers commissioned by Luxury Institute said that the layout, location and atmospheres of the Burberry and Bottega Veneta stores were what they appreciated most.
“A customer-centric culture is something that is a self-reinforcing system that creates consistently extraordinary customer experience,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of The Luxury Institute, New York. “Service values, service standards and education on operational and cultural functions need to be in place.”
Brand stores vs. department store
The Luxury Institute conducts research with wealthy consumers about their behaviors and attitudes on customer experience best practices.
Another finding of the report was that the mystery shoppers preferred the customer service and aesthetics in brands’ retail locations over the experiences in department stores selling that specific brand’s products.
Mystery shoppers found the company stores to be better maintained, with a more welcoming environment, than the brand’s area within a department store.
The findings provide insights into how well luxury brands take advantage of the opportunity to control the environment in which they present their goods. The findings illustrate that most brands excel in their own stores.
The mystery shoppers said that company stores provided better experiences because the staff had welcoming smiles, a friendly greeting on entry and a good-bye when they leave.
Creating a culture-centric environment
Luxury brands understand the value of creating a customer service experience in which everyone in the company participates in.
Mr. Pedraza said that luxury brands need to design a customer-centric environment geared towards culture, not projects. He also said that brands need to create a culture in which they can sustain and thrive even in the absence of a CEO.
“Luxury brands should have a set of service values,” Mr Pedraza said. “They need to educate and hire the right people. Whenever a new store opens, brands need to make sure they test employees for personality.
“They need to be educated in the customer experience and the culture of the brand, not just how to work a register,” he said. “We know every luxury brands CEO gets luxury brand customer service.
“They just don’t know how to do it. They don’t understand that the entire group of associates needs to be inspired to become customer-centric, and there are techniques on how to get this done.”