More than ever, products don’t make a difference by themselves any longer. Guest experience is now a key marker to define who will survive in the Luxury Retail Omnichannel industry.
During COVID-19, we’ve observed in all the major luxury brands that the front-line associates were the most pragmatic and creative to save their businesses, not just to preserve their jobs, but because they really cared for their guests.
In order to ensure their guests could offer gifts for Mother’s Day, religious celebrations, birthdays, etc., front-line associates managed to make happen in a few weeks what had been pending for years. In-store video experiences, payment links through WhatsApp, phone transactions, deliveries at home from team members in no-time, revamping of e-commerce sites, Instagram pages and more…
In short, COVID-19 has finally seen Omnichannel work for the benefit of front-line associates and customers!long-term growth.
New hygiene standards have changed forever the way guests and team members interact with each other and the products.
Masks, sanitisation of items and limited number of guests for instance have made it even more important to provide genuine experiences where the transaction is the consequence of a meaningful connection. The focus has to be the person and human connection, not the product.
The luxury retail industry has to focus on creating relationships in order to continue to thrive sustainably. If the focus remains products and transactions, short-term results will be achieved – but not long-term growth.
There’s no longer a guest experience without a mix of in-store, e-commerce, social media, emails, chats and phone conversations. Investing in the right technology will become a strong element of a successful guest experience. There are three criteria that ensure technology actively contributes to a fantastic guest experience:
1. Ensure the digital technology you’re investing in primarily serves your front-liners, not only your customers. Ask yourself:
2. Ensure the digital technology you’re investing in is merging existing channels:
3. Prefer investing in platforms rather than mobile applications only: Technology and digital investments should be agile, easy to integrate and interact with existing platforms.
Applications alone often imply huge maintenance costs, compatibility issues, lack of reactivity to improve designs or include new functionalities. To summarise, the target is to detect the right platform, not just a mobile application.
Investing in the right digital technologies can transform luxury retail, and more generally the service industry in ways we’ve never seen before.
Fundamental shifts at deep levels will be enabled:
1. Retail jobs will become flexible:
2. Retail will be the catalyst of meaningful innovations:
3. Retail will become a stimulating and diverse job:
The notion of ‘customer’ is widely spread in all industries. Hospitality is the only sector where there are no customers or clients, only ‘guests’.
In this sense, luxury hospitality has been leading the way for a long time, showing us that sustainability in business means primarily treating people like ‘guests’, not ‘customers’, making them feel valued and appreciated. This is the best recipe to increase returning guests, sales and boost advocacy.
It’s key to understand that a guest experience shouldn’t only apply to guests, but also to employees. Your front-liners must first live the experience you want them to deliver. Guest experience applies to all industries.
Treating people as guests, not as ‘walking wallets’ is an approach that brings immense benefits in industries like hospitality, F&B, real estate, health care, automotive, entertainment and banking. But it also applies to B2B industries.
I heard a good example at a summit in Miami in 2014 (Total Customer Experience Leaders’ Summit) around the owner of a family run cardboard company. This was a B2B business, not in the most romantic sector.
His four production sites were in the red and he decided to put finances back on track by focusing on the experience of their guests, without pulling down prices to the level of their Asian competitors. He looked at:
It allowed him to put his production sites back in the black in less than 12 months and save most of the jobs. Because according to him, people were ready to spend more when they understood trust was there and no problem was unsolvable.
Pharmaceutical companies, big industrial engineering or chemical companies, any so-called ‘B2B’ business can impact their financial results by focusing on their guests’ experience.
I would say two types of positions:
The situation is still being handled remarkably well given this difficult and unique situation.
The Middle East and GCC region are far from having delivered their full potential.
Big projects like Neom in KSA are leading the way to a different future, integrating digital and environmental elements from the get-go.
In the UAE, where I live, the Expo 2021 represents a massive opportunity to showcase what the country can deliver and how attractive it can be for people from around the world.
As Maya Angelou famously said, ‘It’s not about what you do, it’s about how you make people feel’.
The rebound of industries like retail, entertainment, hospitality, tourism, airlines and more, will depend hugely on how guest experience is implemented to ensure a sustainable growth based on stakeholders interest.