As custom jewelry becomes more and more popular, smart retailers are expanding their client base beyond their geographical region by connecting with consumers over video—with Skype leading the charge.
Paul Bierker, a custom jewelry designer based in Lawrenceville, Pa., uses Skype (along with mobile video chat apps) to connect with clients in more than 20 different countries. He likes the digital face-to-facing because “video creates an intimacy that you don’t [cultivate] over the phone or on email,” he says. “It’s comforting for my customers that they can look me in the eye when we’re talking about their piece.”
But there’s a fine art to connecting with customers on a platform that requires a modicum of tech savvy to operate smoothly and is plagued by the occasional (and maddening) dropped connection. We asked James Matero, a jeweler at Jaymark Jewelers in Cold Spring, N.Y.—a store that lets shoppers schedule Skype appointments online—to share his tips for using the system.
Matero and his sister, fellow jeweler Katie Szirmay, mastered the nuances of Skype by doing some mock sessions with friends. “In the end, retailers need to figure out how Skype works on their operating system,” he says. “You told your customers to use Skype, so you have to be able to help them.” Matero also recommends plugging a laptop or computer into the internet when Skype-ing with customers to avoid patchy wireless connections or dropping a session altogether.
Learn to Share
Knowing how to share links and photos is key to working well with shoppers on Skype. “Clients can share a link to an Etsy shop or a screenshot,” he says, “and I can share a live rendering of a design from Matrix. We really can do everything we do in the showroom except give them a cup of coffee.”
Friend Early (and Often)
In order to chat, both parties have to be “friends” on Skype. So once you make a date to video-chat, request your customer’s Skype name directly. (The online form to make a Skype appointment at Jaymark includes a field where customers provide their moniker, and Matero sends a Skype request to clients the day he receives their info.)
Dress for Success
Lastly, don’t let the intimacy of the medium lull you into wearing sloppy-looking clothes while Skype-ing. And Matero, who wears a dress shirt and tie for Skype appointments, warns retailers to…wear pants: “You won’t mean to do it, but at some point you’ll stand up—and there you will be, with your Superman boxers on display. That’s a moment you want to avoid.”