Affluent consumers say Tiffany, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom are among the best

American Express is the company wealthy consumers rate overwhelmingly the best in customer information and customer loyalty best practices, according to “Enhancing the Customer Experience of the Wealthy 2006” best business practices survey, from the New York-based Luxury Institute. American Express placed second to Nordstrom in customer relationship management best practices.

In this latest survey from the independent Luxury Institute, 597 High Net Worth consumers were asked to name up to three luxury goods or services firms that they believe represent the best practitioners in customer information, customer relationship management, and customer loyalty practices. These were unaided responses; consumers nominated their choices.

The top five best practitioners in order of ranking in customer information: American Express, Nordstrom, Tiffany, Neiman Marcus, and Lexus. The five best in customer relationship management best practices: Nordstrom, American Express, Lexus, Ritz-Carlton, and Tiffany. The top five best practitioners in customer loyalty programs: American Express, American Airlines, Hilton, Marriott, and Starwood. Most of the loyalty programs that wealthy consumers think are best practitioners are, except for American Express, from non-luxury goods and services categories.

“Many experts and insiders give awards for ‘best practices,'” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute. “While those are important, we wanted to give America’s High Net Worth consumers, people who actually experience these practices and vote with their wallets, the final say as to which practices are really best, and which brands are best practitioners. Luxury marketers need to realize that today’s luxury branding world is a great deal more like The People’s Choice Awards than the Academy Awards. The wealthy in particular trust in peer brand reviews far above other “expert” sources. Luxury executives should follow the customers’ lead.”

“Enhancing the Customer Experience of the Wealthy 2006” best practices survey asked wealthy consumers to indicate which exact best practices they believe are most important in three areas: customer information, customer relationship management, and customer loyalty programs. The survey includes preferred interaction channels for specific activities and Internet usage in the past 12 months. Responders were age 18 and above with minimum income of $150,000 and minimum net worth of $750,000. Median income was $324,000; median net worth was $2 million.