A recent study by Econsultancy found that 61 percent of consumers thought retailers should focus on efficient customer service in order to provide the best experience for their customers. Consumers rated customer service a higher priority than high-quality goods or low prices.
The survey found that 70 percent of consumers bought items in-store in the past six months. However, only 25 percent said that they had an “excellent” experience, in contrast to the 41 percent who said they had an “excellent” experience shopping online.
Jewelry customers, while keeping finances in mind, are buying based on emotions, according to Don Greig of Focus Business Management Institute. “If the customer can get an overall experience that is exceptional and memorable, that will trump financials every time,” he says. “Customer service is the number one way that a jeweler can differentiate themselves from the crowd.”
Grieg cites the success of luxury brands Nordstrom and Lexus, which have made exceeding customer service expectations their top priority.
Donna Hankin, proprietor of Joint Venture Jewelry in Cary, N.C., says that 70 percent of her store’s sales come from repeat customers who keeping coming back because they are made to feel like family.
She asks customers to share their email addresses so they can be kept informed on new arrivals and special events. Hankin also mails out a $100 coupon for birthdays and anniversaries, motivating people to come back to the store.
Hankin has also found success reaching out to her customers on social media. The store has run contests on Facebook and Twitter that allow clients to vote on certain topics that have been very popular. She has also utilized a “wish list” in her store so that her female customers can keep track of what they like. “The gift givers love when we make it easy on them,” she says.
Keturah Welker of KeShelle Diamond & Fine Jewelry in Huntington, W. Va., sent me some tips jewelers should keep in mind when engaging customers this holiday:
- Offer customers free watch batteries, birthday gifts, thank you cards, etc. Great for building rapport and sustaining relationships.
- Be easily available even when customers are “just looking.”
- Be ready to get out a piece of jewelry for them to look at even if it is “way too expensive.”
- Don’t be preoccupied with other things when a customer is in your store. The customer needs to be your number one priority.
- If a customer just made a gift purchase and is taking the item straight to the post office, offer to not only wrap it, but package it, too.
“They seem like little things to us when we do them, but these little things usually mean a lot to our customers,” Welker says. “Purchasing jewelry is a very exciting time for your customers and in order to serve them the best, it’s important to get excited about it with them.”
Jonathan Green of AAA Gold & Jewelry in Plant City, Fla., uses a straightforward approach in his store—using honesty and logical reasoning, as well as making customers feel comfortable and relating to them on a personal level. “Make them feel like they’re your friend,” he says, “not just a customer.”
For more on improving customer service, check out:
- Approach With Care: Getting Help for ‘May I Help You?
- How to Deal With Difficult Customers
- 45 Retail Jewelry Best Practices
- Retail Details: New Orleans Jeweler Creates Sales Training Program
- Sales Tips from the Pros
- Top 10 Customer-Service Standards
- Memo to Merchandisers: 5 Ways to Improve Service Quality
- Jewelry Sales Secrets: What Are They Listening to?
Holiday Tips for Designers and Manufacturers
Jewelers shouldn’t be the only ones improving their customer service this holiday. Here are some tips from Andrea Rosenfeld, founder of Open Studio, on how designers and manufacturers can better contribute to this season’s success:
- Call or send a brief email telling them that you’re excited about the holiday season and ask if there is anything you can do for them. For example: Is there a sale they’re running that you can share on your social networking circles (you don’t have to be a part of the promotion)? Show your retailer that you support them totally, not just when you’re having a special event.
- Set up a holiday show at a retailer close to you or ask if you can come by for a few hours to sell your work and speak to the clients. People enjoy meeting the artist behind the pieces and may have questions about your methods, emotions or materials that the salespeople can’t answer.
- Offer a promotion, like a discount on a coordinating piece of jewelry if a focal piece is purchased. It can be something you have in stock or commit to creating a special order, working specifically with the retailer and client. The piece will have to be picked up at the retailer, bringing the client back into the store.
- What about getting a jump on Valentine’s Day? What about offering a discount on an upcoming Valentine’s Day gift with purchase of a holiday piece? People may be happy to know that they will be saving money on the upcoming holiday. Get the names of the customers who are participating with your promotion and send them a personal reminder at the end of January.
- Donate a percentage of each sale from a specific retailer to a charity of their choice. This is a nice way to give back and support a cause that’s important to your retailer. Share your donation, the retailer and their charitable organization information on your social networking sites and/or website.
- Because it’s a busy time of the year for retailers and their customers may have more questions than usual, be available to them. If a retailer calls and you are busy, call them back as soon as possible. Keep your inventory, material list and costing sheets handy to answer any questions they may have.
- Have packing and shipping materials readily available. When a retailer calls for a re-order, you can ship it out faster, filling the hole on the retail shelf and completing your nicely merchandised section of their case.
“It’s an incredibly busy time of the year for retailers so anything that their vendors can do to make their business life easier and their clients feel special is appreciated,” says Rosenfeld. “Giving great customer service to your retailers is also the perfect way to strengthen your brand image and reputation.”