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How to foster lifelong customer loyalty

Top tips from Joanna Knight OBE, Group CEO of Moneypenny, Lindsay Mitchell, Head of Customer Service Experience at Harrods, and John Rockel, Partner and Head of Strategy & Operations at Knight Frank.

Our Group CEO, Joanna Knight, recently attended the Walpole British Luxury Summit and participated in an interesting panel discussion on the key factors in growing customer-centric businesses and fostering lifelong customer loyalty. Despite the fact that Joanna, Lindsay Mitchell and John Rockel represent very different businesses with diverse target audiences, there were some common threads in what makes excellent customer service.

What CX excellence means for a brand
The key to great customer service is in personalisation. This year Harrods celebrates its 175th anniversary, with a fantastic heritage and history, it has always been an innovative business and according to Lindsay: “it’s important to treat every customer as an individual.” This was echoed by John who commented: “Our people provide our excellence; we listen to what our customers want and need and adapt our customer service accordingly.”

How to deliver great customer service
Joanna Knight is a firm believer in the power of trust and said: “As consumers, we already know what non-personalised service feels like – it makes us feel like we are just a number and that we aren’t special or appreciated. So it makes sense for businesses to ensure consistency in treating every customer as an important individual.”

Joanna added: “You have to remember in this day of spreadsheets and tables, that not everything is always measurable or tangible. Sometimes you have to trust your gut feel and go with it. Sometimes you need to be bold and throw the scoring mechanisms out of the window.”

For Lindsay, the key ingredient in delivering great CX is people within the company: “Engaged people deliver. It’s about collaboration, and everyone has to buy into the vision and be fully on board. Communicating what an excellent customer experience feels like is key.” She added: “We make sure we look after our people, keeping employees motivated, and ensuring they understand their individual role and the impact it has on our customers.”

Current obstacles to delivering an ideal CX experience
Times have been trying for many businesses, owing to the cost of living crisis, and for Knight Frank the biggest obstacle has been a challenging market. John comments: “It’s important for us to keep in touch with all our clients, both new and old. In some respects past customers should be a priority as they have demonstrated their loyalty. We’ve therefore developed a platform that helps inform our people with things such as who the top customers are that they should be calling today.”

There are certainly challenges in the luxury sector, particularly when a customer sees their purchase as aspirational, as Lindsay remarks: “They may have saved all year for that handbag, so if the service is not spot on and they are not blown away or wowed at every step, they will rightly complain if it’s not the experience they were expecting.”

For Lindsay, it’s also important to understand the narrative from data, and discover what stories the data tells her about Harrods. “We need to ask how things could or should be done differently to better the outcome for our customers.”

Joanna agreed: “It’s about opening cupboards, conducting a dirty laundry review, and asking ‘Where can I fix this, and at what level?’”.

How to keep CX delivery fresh

John advised that data comes in here, including customer surveys and panels, which should be used as encouragement to employees to learn from and not used negatively towards them. We obtain thousands of pieces of feedback and it is invaluable in shaping our customer experience.

Openness is also key, as Lindsay said: “You need to keep your eyes wide open to see what’s going on” whilst Joanna advises: “You need to be really open minded, and if you have the right relationship with your customers, they will be open with you. You also shouldn’t be afraid to change the programme and do things differently for a fresh approach to CX.”

People vs. tech in CX
John advised that it’s important to have a great CRM/database. “It’s important to document every step of a customer’s journey, whether it happens in a branch in the UK, or overseas. We need to understand every touch point with our customers, so we can provide a holistic, joined up service. We’ve created an online app that allows the customer to follow their own property journey, which is especially useful for overseas customers in different time zones. Whilst it is important to offer our customers online options, personal contact remains vital for our customer experience.”

Joanna believes that personalisation is again important in terms of use of tech: “Some customers want tech, some don’t and some want a blended approach.”

Taking a leaf out of Moneypenny’s book, Lindsay commented. “The phone is still very important! There’s a place for AI, but in tandem with the human touch.” Lindsay recounted how there had been an occasion where a delivery of high worth goods was left on doorstep. Harrods Black and Gold Card customers now receive a call on the day of their delivery, confirming that it’s going to be delivered, and checking whether the customer will be in or has received their purchase.

Lindsay had also unpicked an issue where complaints were being answered by email rather than picking up the phone, hence she advised: “Phone your customers, speak with them; it’s worth far more than an email response.”

How to manage and exceed ever-changing customer expectations

Joanna advises: “To really understand what makes great CX, put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and also those of your employees.” Lindsay echoed that it’s “important to understand your customer,” and similarly John added: “Be interested in your customer, and really get to know them.”

To find out more about how Moneypenny will enhance your CX delivery, call 0333 202 1005 today.

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