You know a good retail experience when you see it, when you feel it, and it usually relies on really good customer service. And we’re not talking about persistent service or complicated service. Usually, great retail experiences result from going to a store you know and love, interacting with someone who knows about you and then benefiting from their knowledge. Sometimes this experience is highly local and the associate asks about your recent vacation. Other times, it’s going to a retail chain and having them understand your past purchase history in order to make a really good recommendation for an upcoming wedding. Both experiences are founded on a comprehensive understanding of your needs, motivations and desires at an individual level which are seamlessly used to provide better service.
Lucky for me, I know there’s one store where I can find this experience, and that’s Lou & Grey. Side note, I wrote about Lou & Grey on this blog before…I’m a little obsessed to say the least.
While I’m head over heals for the style of the clothes, the price point and the innovative retail experience—see my other blog post— a huge reason I come back is because of Kathy. While I live in Nashville, my family is in Connecticut and I shop regularly at Lou & Grey in Westport. There, Lou & Grey’s amazing employee, Kathy, has developed a strong relationship with my mother, my sister and me. We head to Lou & Grey hoping to catch a glimpse of her laugh and strong sense of humor. And also because she knows us really well. She knows that we tend to mostly buy clothes on sale but that we’ll splurge for something full price if we love it. She knows which clothes fit our sense of style and our body types. She provides suggestions, tells us when something doesn’t look great and gives recommendations for something that will work well with a piece we purchased last time. She’s amazing. And because she is amazing and the store is amazing, we return often and spend a lot more than we would otherwise.
What’s neat is that Kathy’s amazing customer service can be replicated through technology. Here’s why…
First, I like Lou & Grey enough to have their credit card—it gives me special offers when I spend a certain amount. That means that Lou & Grey can collect information about me right off the bat: the credit card is connected to my spending history. If linked to a CRM system, Lou & Grey employees like Kathy could also add in information about me to my “loyalty number” such as color preferences, size and taste.
Second, Lou & Grey can connect the knowledge about me to my experience in store. This way, if I visit a new store, or if Kathy has the day off, other associates can offer an experience that rivals Kathy’s. They can tap into my information to provide better recommendations and thus better service, offering new things for me to try that match my existing wardrobe and fall in line with my spending preferences.
Because I’ve developed a sense of confidence in the chain, I feel like my information is protected. I don’t worry about how my loyalty information is being used and I’m not freaked out by a new associate understanding my spending history because I’ve developed trust with Lou & Grey through their great customer service. In an ideal world, I would know how the retailer was using my information, how they protected it and what value I received in return.
If these simple changes were made to their loyalty program, and they implemented employee training to support the changes, I would shop at Lou & Grey way more often. Remember, the experience I shared with Kathy is in Connecticut. I live in Nashville. As a result, I’m limiting my shopping visits to a few times a year instead of once a month. If the retailer connected my patterns to my loyalty information and supplemented that technology enhancement with good associate training, I’d get just as good service here in Nashville, and I’d visit the store a lot more often.
In the meantime, I’ll keep talking up Lou & Grey and visiting Kathy whenever I can. And I’ll look forward to a future in which I get to learn the name of my favorite associate in Nashville.