Monday, October 10, 2016

The Concierge Level Customer Experience

I’m populating my blog with real stories, about customer experiences I am having in my everyday life. My last couple of examples have really shined a light on some challenging experiences but there are really great examples of customer experience out there too, and I am happy to be sharing this one with you!

This experience is from the retail trenches and just happens to be about trenches -the coat kind. I wanted to share my insight on an experience with Burberry and my trench coat situation. Or rather, my wife’s trench coat situation.

When we first moved to downtown Chicago a few years ago, outerwear became a huge focus for us, as Chicago has varying levels of “cold” and we don’t have a car so we walk just about everywhere. I noticed that my wife started coming home with a new and different trench coat every week. Why? Because she couldn’t find one that really met her needs. The constant temperature changes had her feeling like one was too thin, one was too thick – kind of like a Goldilocks situation and she still hadn’t found her “just right”.

I knew she was very fond of Burberry’s trench coats but couldn’t wrap her head around the hefty price tag that accompanied them. I tried to reason but she wouldn’t even go and look at them, I told her that I would buy her one for Christmas and she still said no. In the meantime, the collection of trench coats in our front hall closet continued to grow and I made my last plea. “It would be worth the investment since you are spending money every week on a new and evidently inferior trench coat. Plus, my Uncle Mel (the inspiration behind my book, 720 Haircuts) has one and it lasted him a lifetime!” I knew, firsthand that it was a well-made product and I knew that I was going to buy her one or risk having to call in those people from the reality show “Hoarders” to declutter the growing collection of trench coats permeating every closet in our condo.

Now, with Burberry on the brain, I started to do my own research. I looked into trench coat options for my wife. I dug into the history, the fits, the colors, and the further I went in, the more enthralled I was with the story behind the brand. It was one steeped in history, built on legacy with a good dose of mystique and modernization to stay current with fashion trends while maintaining their classic look and feel.

Because of my wife’s petite frame, I zoned in on Burberry’s slim fit designs, selected the coat and went about trying to find the best price. I searched the internet for the best deal and had plans to purchase it online. However, one July day while strolling along Michigan Avenue we were passing Burberry and I convinced my wife to go into Burberry and “just try one on for size”.

The warm welcome was immediate. We were greeted at the door and asked what we were shopping for. This open-ended question opened the engagement floodgates. I told them all about my research and wanting to see the slim fit trench coat for my wife. My wife shot me a look as if to say, “When did you become a Burberry expert?” And that’s when we met Elgie.

It was clear off the bat that Elgie, one of Burberry’s sales associates, had very deep expertise in and passion for the product. He asked A LOT of questions – tell me about your lifestyle? What do you want the coat to do for you? For which seasons? Etc. And then….he listened. Like really listened. We were brought to a dressing room, offered champagne and my wife was offered a makeover, seriously “do you want to have your make-up touched-up while you’re here?”  WOW, she passed but I thought if they could do something about my love handles that would be awesome, but I digress.

Elgie brought in several styles of coats he thought we might work well for my wife, including the one that I told him I had selected online. He also immediately brought an expert tailor into the dressing room. Wow, that’s an assumptive sale right there.   Champagne in hand, a private dressing room, a tailor and Elgie asking all the right questions and using his expertise and passion to offer his opinion and advice on which style and fit he thought was best, I was here to stay. Elgie, was acting as our advisor as he and the tailor shared their expertise. This guy was making customer experience magic happen and he took it beyond just the coat when he started asking what restaurants we liked in the city and began to made recommendations on places he thought we should try. He wasn’t selling us a coat he was offering a concierge level experience and he did it authentically.

Elgie was beginning to build a relationship that went beyond the coat! You see it’s never really all about the product, it’s about the experience and we were having one worth writing about.

“What will we do to keep Mrs. Magenta’s neck warm?” was the next question and Elgie brought over an array of classic Burberry scarfs including one overlaid with magenta polka dots. “If the woman’s last name is Magenta how can she not have a magenta scarf?” Point well made, Elgie! How could any logical shopper argue that point? Plus, it looked damn good with the coat. SOLD!

From there he went on to show us the 12 different knots you can tie with the belt on the trench coat and where we could find the instructions online.  This man was good. I was in. My wife, however, pointed out that it was July and 97 degrees outside, and she didn’t need a coat for months. She said it was expensive and now with the scarf too. She wanted to really give this some thought… but I wasn’t leaving without giving this man the sale. I mean, if I knew I was going to buy this coat for her for Christmas anyway, there was no way I was not buying this coat from this man at this store, no way!

He took the time to forge an emotional connection with us and understand our needs as buyers, down to every last detail. Elgie took someone (me) planning to purchase a trench coat, online, six months down road, at the best price, not only to purchase that coat in the store, but also the magenta polka dot scarf. Elgie offered a concierge-level customer experience that easily justified the price of this “expensive” trench coat and even changed my wife’s mindset from, “this is ridiculous” to “this makes complete sense”.

So much so, that I did purchase earlier than planned and so Elgie went to the basement of the store to get a brand new coat, already boxed from inventory for us to take home.

And let me point out, I realize this is a very high-end product from a high-end retailer. But this same level of customer experience can be translated to ANY level. The experience wasn’t about the champagne, I didn’t even drink it. The story is about creating an experience that goes beyond the product, building an emotional connection with your customer, being a trusted advisor and delivering an authentic experience just as if you were the owner of the store.

The story doesn’t end there!

When my wife opened the box a day later, there were some tags and buttons missing. When she went to store Elgie was not there. The associate who helped her was very apologetic and explained it must have come from a mannequin and immediately got her a new coat. The associated opened and inspected everything in front of my wife to make sure she had that Goldilocks moment – everything was just right and she was very satisfied with Burberry’s service recovery.

A few days later I received a call at from Elgie letting me know he was back at the store and expressing his apologies and asking what he could do to make it up to us. The answer was nothing. Elgie, and the staff at Burberry had done everything right, and despite the little hiccup at the end, we were satisfied (and now loyal) customers. The great customer experience at Burberry is not limited to just Elgie.

To this day, Elgie still texts or calls about once a month checking in and asking if my wife is wearing her new coat and even inquiring about if we’ve tried the restaurants he suggested.

Overall, Burberry nailed the customer experience. They did a stellar job selecting the right man and training him to deliver one of the best customer experiences I have ever had. Elgie acts like an owner and is 100% authentic, but also has the finesse and product knowledge to back it up. Great customer experience comes down to the people, so big shout out to Burberry for setting the bar high.

I asked Elgie what drives him to deliver this level of customer experience and he told me he has a concierge mindset.

In his own words, Elgie says, “Creating a unique and personalized experience is what drives me to provide great service. I am a demanding and savvy shopper; so I treat everyone as if they are as well. I know what it takes to WOW me, so I taper my service to each customer and look for ways to go above and beyond using a unique approach. I feel it is extremely important to connect with customers on a personalized level in order to build an emotional connection, where you are no longer looked upon as a sales associate, but as a trusted advisor.”

Well, Elgie, that is exactly what you did. You knocked it out of the park and because of it, we are loyal to Burberry and to you.

Anyone else have a feel-good customer experience to share? Email me at gmagenta@rootinc.com and tweet with me @gmagenta using #customersforlife.

You can also check out my latest book, 720 Haircuts for more customer experience stories.