Style and elegance

By Camilla Amalie Wildfang Illum von Scholten, Country Manager at OLE LYNGGAARD COPENHAGEN

In luxury jewellery retail the boutique is a destination for style and elegance. Our boutique is a stage, and we are the performers. Our customers are the audience. When the door opens the show begins, and all behind the scenes activities are kept away from the customers to view, as not to interrupt the performance!

My motto for successful service excellence is patience and passion!

In luxury retail serving a customer can be a time-consuming process, and it is important that you have great patience, so that the customer does not feel any rush or stress. Listen to what the customer has to say and ask questions. We want to hear about their kids, grandkids, dogs, see the iPhone photos etc. This is the difference from walking into our store and the stores of big multi international brands. We care and people share their emotions and their life stories with us. Getting to know your customer will help you to guide and to inspire the customer.

The customer can feel your passion for the brand and for the products. The pieces you like the most are also the pieces you will find the easiest to sell.

A few more important points that I have learned:

1. Making the customer feel good and relaxed. You can come a long way with a warm welcome and a smile. We always offer our customers something to drink and a piece of luxury Danish chocolate. It is important that the customer feel at home.

2. Entertain your customer with story telling of the brand or of a unique piece. People don’t only buy the products, they buy the stories and the energy. You need to feed the customer with all the beautiful aspects of the brand.

3. Remember your customers name to make the experience more personal.

4. If it is a tourist you can offer your hospitality guidance to the city; such as museums, restaurants, on-going show etc. Even help to make reservations.

5. Show flexibility and walking the extra mile for your customers makes a difference. By offering a personal delivery if it is inconvenient for the customer to come and collect the piece. Or by following the customer to the car to make them feel safe and to help carry the bags.

6. That little something extra such as, Christmas gifting for VIP customers, hand written birthday cards and wedding anniversary cards.

7. In after sales service, the customer is always right. Don’t be afraid to receive complaints. Always apologize for the inconvenience, show you care, and then take the focus away from the negative by complimenting the customer and focus on new items or story telling. Then educate the customer on how to take care of the product.

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You Can Deliver Customer Service Excellence for an Online Store

by Beth Medley, Founder of Hunter + Boo

As the founder of a start-up online store it is inevitable you end up wearing many hats each day. One of the most important, but easily overlooked aspects is how to deliver customer service excellence.

Online stores are not dealing with people In Real Life, and as we spent all that time making our e-commerce site perfect, we often assume that customer service will take care of itself.

We should remember that the way we manage every single communication channel either on or offline provides the chance of a new sale, a genuine referral, or could be the reason people come back for more. 

Service excellence also makes you stand out from your competitors.

Here are five ways to deliver exceptional customer service for your online retail business:

1.     It’s all about Social Media.  Listen to your customers online. Set aside time daily to hang out on your social media channels and actively engage with your followers.  It’s a great place to get a feel for trends or a gap in your product range for development.

2.     Say What?  Provide multiple channels for your customers to contact you and make the process easy and seamless:  email, website feedback forms, direct messages through social channels.  You won’t be meeting your customers face-to-face so make sure they are talking to you in other ways.

3.     Don’t be afraid of the bad review.  Give your customers the ability to give your products or services a review on Facebook.  If you do receive a less than favorable review, contact the customer directly to find out more and count it as a learning experience.

4.     What the FAQ?  Have an up-to-date and clearly written FAQ page.  Many of your customer enquiries will fall into common categories. Review these and update your FAQ page accordingly. 

5.     Take it offline. Are you doing pop-ups or events? Now is the chance to meet your customers face-to-face and really get some nitty gritty feedback on your products or services. If you’re not, consider focus groups. It’s a relatively low-cost way to get invaluable and direct feedback on your products or services.  Companies like ARBC can offer this service.

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A customer is like a guest

You do not have a second chance to make a first impression, so it is very important that you are always smiling, inspiring and giving the customer a warm welcoming. Body language is more powerful than words, so make sure you have a positive attitude.

A customer is like a guest, so you have to see yourself as the host. Your guests at home are different, and so are your customers. Pay attention to the little things and you will save a lot of time. They are more important than you think.

When you know which type of customer you have, then you can find the right item and give the customer the correct information.

Storytelling is very important today, because a lot of customers for instans already have a pair of jeans, so you have to know what to say to sell another pair.

If you can tell them, what they need before they find it themselves, then you will have a very good and loyal customer. If a customer asks for a dress, always find out what kind of dress the customer wants. You have to give them a total look. Do not hesitate to ask, if you should find a pair of shoes to match the dress, show them other accessories, give advice about makeup and hair styling to the dress, if the customer has interest. As a sales advisor you have to understand that it is important to know more than just about clothes and trends. A lot of customers do not have time to find the perfect hairdresser, the best beauty salon or the newest restaurant. You have to inspire the customer and tell about new things. If a customer gets an exceptionel good shopping experience, trust me, you will have a very loyal customer, who will only ask for you in the shop. I think that is the biggest compliment you can get, because we all know that time is money.

Make sure the customer feels at home, make a cup of coffee, show them around the shop. If a customer buys a lot of things from your shop, maybe give them a little gift or celebrate it with them serving champagne.

If a customer asks for something, you do not have in the shop, do not hesitate to help the customer to find it, - maybe you find shops or go with the customer to another shop. Make sure to follow up on the customer (aftersale), because you can build an ongoing relationship with them. Send the customer a picture, when you get the new collection from their favourite brand ( pre- sale). Listen carefully to what the customer is saying to you, so you know what to speak about next time they visit the shop. Always remember the customer's name, shoe size and so on and find clothes that fits the customer's style and bodytype. The most important thing is to make the customer look and feel more confident and beautiful. If the pants they try on - do not look good on the customer - then tell them, because if you tell them they look wonderful each time they try on a new item - do you really think they will come back to you another time? Furthermore you have to find out what they do for a living, because maybe they have a dresscode at work or they travel a lot.

When you are dealing with a tourist then maybe help them with a booking at a restaurant, follow them to other shops, maybe they would like you to send their bags to the hotel so they do not have to carry all the bags by themself. Maybe you write a thank you note or send them a Christmas card.

Excellence service is about doing more than expected and always remember that a good customer is a very easy way to achieve more new customers, because next time the customer visits the shop, she will bring her friends.


 

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Service excellence in Beauty and Makeup

In the field of Beauty and Makeup services according to me, the most important criteria to meet is Clients requirements. 

A lot of the time we end up buying products that don't suit us or that we really don't need. This is because we fall prey to the sales talk. 

As a Makeover Artist and Consultant, I prefer to suggest to  women the most Apt products and techniques to suit  their lifestyle. I try and understand the requirements of a client, be it Bride,  Celebrity,  Model. Each of them have very different requirements normally.  

In my Workshop I would cater to the clients lifestyle needs. And teach techniques in accordance. I would not suggest too many products, rather a few that multitasking. 

Flexibility is another service essential in my field.  If at the last moment the client feels a change in mind of style for hair or Makeup, I would oblige. Change in location happens sometimes and so does time.  

Customer satisfaction is the final product. It's all in the feeling.  If a client feels great and looks great, that's all that matters. Some client are brave and bold to try new looks, where as others are most comfortable with looks they have tried before. 

Gayathri Menon

www.gayathrimenon.com

+65 9108 1014

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The art of hospitality

Sometimes the best moments in life are humble, cherished, and don’t cost a
fortune. Think back to the time you received a complimentary upgrade, or when the
barista remembered your order and greeted you by name, the charismatic bar
tender who curated the perfect evening, or finding yourself lost in a new city where
a stranger offers directions voluntarily. These small moments create an experience,
and change your perception of a situation, time, or place. This is hospitality.
The art-form of hospitality is a guilty pleasure of mine, having spent 15 years in
hotel, and client relationship management. We derive pleasure from creating
moments for guests, visitors or strangers. It is generosity and a passion for making
people happy, and I expect my peers to share the same sentiment. After all, we
created an industry out of selling an intangible item, experience, or moment.
Hospitality, like all art, requires passion, perseverance and grit. It requires a certain
type of person to come to work each day and carefully orchestrate moments for
strangers, not always bearing witness to their enjoyment or receiving the praise.
Maya Angelou stated it perfectly, when she said; “People will forget what you said,
forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This
represents true hospitality.
I have witnessed through my own experiences and lengthy career, that this art form
seems to be losing significance. Will hospitality eventually be lost to time, like the
bygone days of drive-in-movies, romance of railway travel, and the formality of
dressing for dinner? I hope not. I hope to incentivize hospitality, and safeguard it for
future generations to show all industries the greatness of this art form and the
importance of the curators. Let’s take a moment to recognize the unsung heroes
who didn’t change history, win wars, and who’s name you have forgotten. The
heroes who orchestrate rare moments that make us ‘feel’, as Maya Angelou so eloquently captured. This is the art of hospitality.

Sofie – Claire Di Donato
Business Consultant
+65 9880 0603
sofie.didonato@gmail.com

 

 

Seeking authenticity when going shopping

This summer my family and I spent some lovely time in the Northern part of Denmark in a little area called Tisvilde. What makes this place so special to us is that we are very much in touch with nature. We go for walks in the forest, we swim in the sea every day and we take the children to see the local farms where we can see the goats, chickens and pigs. Most of what we buy when we are up there is locally produced. Fresh eggs, vegetables, fish and fruit. One of the farms grow strawberries and they have built their brand around the experience they provide for families coming to their farm. You can go in the field and pick your own strawberries, you can get 6 different kinds of strawberry ice creams or strawberry jams. When you are there you are highly interacting with the farmer which makes the experience so much more authentic.

I believe that people are more and more seeking the personalized service and the authentic experience. Local communities can contribute very well to this but how can the rest of us provide an experience for our customers that is unique and personalized?

Knowing who the real customer is

My daughter and I enjoy going to the local wet market for a freshly squeezed juice. My daughter always goes for the green apple and I go for the watermelon juice. The sweet couple who have the juice bar have previously asked my daughter to come behind the screen and see the juices being made. An experience in itself. The other day the man came over to find out if Amy still wanted the pink straw. A big smile came on her face. This couple know who the real customer is. If my daughter did not enjoy coming to this juice bar – I wouldn’t be going either. It’s all about understanding your customer’s needs and answering to them. Thank you dear juice bar couple for making certain afternoons easier and more fun for me and my daughter.

When company policies become a road block for serving the customer

As customers we want to feel understood and valued by the supplier, institution, organization, restaurant – whatever it may be. Nothing frustrates me more then when the person in front of me is not showing any understanding (or interest) in my situation. The other day I had bought 2 tickets for a play in the theatre – the tiger who came to tea. I thought I could just print the 2 tickets and then go to the play. But I got an email saying I had to go to one of their agencies to pick up the tickets. Fair enough. So I went to one of their agencies who happened to be closed for lunch. Ok, so I went to somewhere else in town where I had to search for their office on the 6th floor in a department store after I had been a bit lost. Still, I’m in fine spirits and ask to get the tickets and show my confirmation email and my ID. The lady asked me to show the creditcard with which I had purchased the tickets. Yes, well this was in Spain with my husband. Oh, well could he then send an email where he had scanned it with his signature. Yes, well the time was now 4am in Spain so I doubted this was possible. Well, then I just had to come back later they said. By this point my patience was gone after already having spent half a day it felt on this. I now had 3 people in front of me who still didn’t seem interested in finding a solution for me. I got the head office on the phone who couldn’t seem to find a solution either. I had to bring my teeth out and finally I got the tickets with a note on it that I would then have to show the scan when I got to the theatre 2 days later. Will I be buying tickets through this company again? I doubt it.

The employees were purely following policies and procedures which the company had set for them. Companies must remove all roadblocks to ensure that the employees don’t end in this situation where they are unable to answer to the customer’s needs. And the employees should immediately have had the urge to solve this situation and to see how ridiculous it looked from my perspective and adapted swiftly. This did not happen. Who are we serving in the end. The customers? Or the company policies? The play was luckily brilliant. 

Showing empathy towards the customer

I think you got the right idea that I was delighted about my visit with Iben from NIMB.  She shared a story from Disney Land where a father and son were cueing for the rollercoaster. They had cued for quite a while and when it was finally their turn it turned out that the boy was too short for the ride. The conductor could have dealt with it by just sending them off. In stead he knelt down and said to the boy: “Your father has obviously not seen the sign that there is a height limit for this ride” “Don’t worry you can come up and sit in the front with me and your father can ride in the back”. And he put a conductor hat on the boy and let the boy sit in the front. The boy was thrilled. This story is more fun sharing than a story about a boy who got turned away and it still teaches the parents a lesson that they must respect the height limits. And this is showing empathy towards the customer and it made the customer feel valued and understood. I am sure this little boy and his family will be forever loyal to Disneyland.  

Surprising and delighting the customer

Met with the director of the renowned hotel NIMB in Copenhagen, Iben. She is a remarkable example of what service is about. Since she was very little she knew she wanted to be a hotel director and has trained the best places. But it was evident that her expertise on the field service mainly came from her upbringing.

·      How to put yourself in someone else’s spot

·      How to genuinely want to give someone else the best experience

·      How to focus on the solution rather than on the problem

You can learn many things and gain tools on how to serve others but real service lies within one and one’s inner wish on wanting to surprise others positively. The challenge for many leaders/managers is to develop this wish over time. But it can be done when staff feel involved, appreciated and feel empowered to do what’s right for the custome. It was evident that she gives NIMB a very homely feeling and that no detail is left unattended. The staff know that they have the flexibility to adapt to the customers’ needs and they follow her example and you feel naturally at home at this esteemed hotel. A regular guest came in and Iben immediately jumped to her feet and opened a beer for him which he could bring to his room. Something she knows he likes. She is the perfect hostess. Meeting and understanding her guests wishes and exceeding their expectations is a mission. It was a pure delight seeing service practiced at such a high level. She gave numerous examples from the hotel which all put smiles to my face. She told me the story about a couple celebrating the wives 75th birthday at NIMB restaurant and the food had not been satisfactory. Off course everything can’t be perfect every time but it’s how you deal with a customer’s disappointment that matters. Iben dealt with it by inviting them back for her 76th birthday for a new dinner. I am sure they left feeling understood, valued and happy to return.

Merging online and offline service

Net-a-porter has already revolutionized global fashion retail by making fashion easily accessible. They have gained great success due to being technically advanced, their activity on social media and their close relationships with designers and customers. Their service in terms of delivery and their return policy is outstanding.

I went to an event hosted by Net-a-porter the other day with a friend who was personally invited by them. I arrived and was immediately greeted by someone who ticked of my name on the list and then offered me a drink served by handsome young fellows. When we had had a moment to absorb our surroundings a representative came over from Net a Porter and introduced us to the collections and we were made aware that there was a personal shopper there should we need it. All was done very professionally and in a way that made us feel welcome as well as lived up to our expectations of Net-a-Porter. The venue was a gallery which gave the event a certain edge and coolness to it without being too artie fartie.

We can talk about the importance of service offline – but it matters even more so online. And it was impressive to see live how offline and online was merged at this event as people were buying online whilst getting the full experience offline as well as posting loads on all the social medias. Many could learn from their way of doing things.  

Experiencing products in their natural setting

Every Sunday we take my daughter to Taekwando. After this we rush to fill up our tummies. Our new favorite location is House of Anli Bistrot. We had always been intrigued by House of Anli interiors which is a flagship store offering a beautiful collection of furniture, linen, tableware and home accessories. With the bistrot they have taken it to a new level. You sit in the most relaxed and charming surroundings, eating delicious food from the tableware sold in the store. Your senses are stimulated at a higher degree. The staff are super friendly and inviting and you could not feel more welcome. My daughter was craving for a ham, cheese sandwich which was not on the menu – but they showed great flexibility and made it happen. They have conquered regular guests for sure.

The best way to get customers to fall in love with your products is to let them experience them by using all the senses. The smells from the kitchen, the smiles and proactive service from the staff, the feel of the cutlery, the coffee even tasted better from those cups. This experience we had will definitely lead us to be buying from their tableware. Well done House of Anli.

http://houseofanli.com/

Word of mouth

Singapore has so much more to offer than the shopping on Orchard Road. And OffOrchard are out discovering hidden gems, artisans and Boutiques with good stories every day. I follow them on Instagram and I enjoy their uploads as I learn something every time about what this city I live in has to offer. They are all about serving us with revealing these small traders, hipster cafés and bringing them to life and telling their stories. You realize how much Singapore is hiding in the small laneways and streets and how many are pursuing their own dream with the task to give us something different, something with an edge and something that touches us emotionally and leaves us with a smile. I had the pleasure of meeting one of the partners from OffOrchard the other day and they are genuinely passionate about what they do. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways to influence people because it usually comes from a reliable source. OffOrchard deliver so authentically and so elegantly that this is word of mouth that you can trust.

Please visit www.OffOrchard.com

Employee recognition

My friend took me to PUNCH in town. We sat nicely overviewing the kitchen where the action was on. A gentleman in a blue linen shirt was making the coffee and my friend pointed out he was the manager. Enjoying my smashed avocado sandwich I nearly fell off my chair when the manager and the staff suddenly yelled out – I have no idea what they said and by who’s initiative it was – but it sparked such an energy in the room and an obvious bond between the staff. They share a service culture and their outcry was a booster for them as well as for us. PUNCH had a photo exhibition on and the photographer came in as we were there. The manager quickly opened a bottle of champagne which he poured out to the photographer, himself and the staff to celebrate the photographer. It was impressive to see the involvement from the staff and how the manager inspired the staff to work as a team and to together commit to the engaged service culture that we as guests felt and experienced. A great way of recognizing all staff members as part of the PUNCH team.

Engaging with your audience

Just went through the reviews from the Coldplay concert: Coldplay put on a carnival-like, kaleidoscopic show, Coldplay and their awesome rainbow connection in Singapore, Coldplay performs stellar first night in Singapore, Coldplay live up to the hype, Coldplay wows fans with a technicolor dream… The headlines say it all. Coldplay put on a marvelous performance and lived up to the expectations of 100.000 people over 2 nights. They engaged the audience by the music, the colors and the balloons. Everybody was singing their songs. Imagine having that kind of loyalty from your customers. Imagine having stirred your customer’s emotions to such a degree that they are singing your lyrics, using your brand as a verb (I’ll google it?), using your slogan (just do it?). We all have our different ways of engaging with customers, fans, guests. Coldplay does it through their songs, their music videos, their performances and their humanity. How do you engage with your customer?

Brand ambassadors

Boutique Fairs has grown to become the GO-TO event twice a year. I went for the one in March and was overwhelmed by the energy of creative and dynamic vendors and customers. The community is strong and something everyone, either expat or local, want to be a part of in Singapore. I was fortunate to meet with Charlotte who runs the Boutique Fairs and her compassion, intellect and drive is amazing. She handpicks the brands herself and supports the brands in how they best can benefit from the Fair. It is not only about making money but it is a chance to show their brand to consumers, hear their feedback through direct interaction where designers can touch consumer’s emotions with their story. Charlotte has herself a great story and is inspiring in the way she empowers people, especially women, to pursue their dreams and to create and build on good ideas. We spoke about service and the importance of bringing your brand to life and in creating brand ambassadors. Are you bringing out your brand's full potential and inspiring others to venture on your journey?

 

The little things that count

My husband and I just came back from a small trip to Siem Riep, Cambodia. Absolutely worth a visit. We stayed at a Boutique Hotel called The Aviary. The hotel itself was beautifully designed but what really struck us was the immense welcoming and personal service. They adapted a Temple visit to our needs with a personal Tuk Tuk driver and they were there to welcome us with cooling towels when we got back from the outing. In the morning, they were always there to open the door for us for breakfast and they were effective with coffee and clearing plates. They were discreet yet attentive. It was the perfect balance. When we relaxed at their pool in their lounging chairs they would come with a small plate with fresh fruit beautifully laid out. A surprising and spoiling little detail. They made us feel very special and showed great interest in us. I have found this kind of service rare at hotels and it was therefore even more of delight to find it here in this small sanctuary in the middle of the buzzing city. Good service is easy when you:

·      Show a genuine interest in your guest

·      Care for your guests and go out of your way with little details that surprise and delight.

·      Address your guests needs in a proactive manner

What extra detail are you doing for your customer in order to surprise and delight them?

Walking the extra mile for the customer

Burnt Ends have partnered with Mastercard in sizzling Singaporeans taste buds with 12 chefs for a 12-month dining program. My husband and I were lucky to get 2 seats for one of their events. And we were not disappointed. Not only was the food delicious. But the whole atmosphere was so cool, laid back and everyone was getting out of their way to ensure we had a memorable evening. The menu was paired with a drinks menu and we did not have to think of a thing. I asked if I could change my cocktails out with wine and it was no problem. And the sommelier paired the wine instead and presented the wines so beautifully. We left the place all smiles, a bit (very) tipsy and delighted due to:

·      Outstanding service

·      Their flexibility and ability to adjust to our needs

·      Joint efforts from the team to please us

·      A surprising event with a flown in chef from Bali

·      A general warmth as the staff showed genuine interest in us

·      Delicious food

Overall it exceeded our expectations. Thank you Burnt Ends. We’ll be back (if we can get a table).

 

Storytelling - or lack of..

I went to a smart new bar opened up here in Singapore the other day. I went with 2 good friends, one who has an excessive experience in the hospitality business and runs some of the best restaurants in Singapore. We all share a passion for good service. I arrive as the first one to the venue and I am asked whether I have a reservation. “No, I don’t.” The waiting list is half an hour to an hour and I can’t wait in the bar. “ok, well add me to the list because this is the place we have agreed on, so I’ll stay. So after having flourished for 15 min in the entrance, a lady gets me and says that I can now wait in the bar. The surroundings are stunning and the bar is super cool with bartenders dressed very elegantly and I am now feeling a bit more appreciated. The table is now ready and I can wait there with my wine. My friends arrive and all is good. We are looking forward to this as we have high expectations. But then it takes 15 min for menus to arrive. My friend would like a gin & tonic – but then notices a drink some girls at the table next to us are having – “oh, that’s made by a special bartender flown in from Bangkok who is here tonight” – hmm, that might have been worth telling us before. Again, this is a brand new spot – storytelling would have been easy.

·      How have you heard of us?

·      Do you know what we specialize in?

·      Let us tell you a bit about how we became.

People are moved by stories. And stories engage us and make us come back for more – not only good cocktails. We were nearly begging for them to bring us their brand.

However, the evening moves on and we are left with empty drinks, the menu stuck in front of us for too long without being asked what we would like to eat, the nuts come nearly as we are about to leave. And it goes on. The staff seemed unenthusiastic about what they were selling and about us who were in their universe. We wanted to live the universe but left unsatisfied. There simply was a gap between what we thought we were going to get and what we got. A place like that must remember:

·      To stir emotions

·      To engage their customers and make them feel valued

·      To be proactive

·      To be efficient and professional at all times.

 

Providing the customer with a shortcut

This week I attended the Fashion Sustainability 101 Series where the topic was how to help existing/emerging fashion brands, fashion designers and fashion practitioners to be more equipped with knowledge/information on how they can incorporate sustainability on their respective businesses or community.

I was amazed by all the levels sustainable fashion brands have to go to in order to be certified. In the end of the day the certification serves the consumers by saying: I'm ok and my journey to get to you was healthy and sound and I contain no nasties. So when you see a GOTS, a BCorp or any other certified certificate then be pleased that the brand is simply trying to serve you as a customer by providing you with a shortcut to the sustainable choice.