Customer experience is a well known key driver to customer loyalty and retention in all markets if you get it right - FMCG, Travel, Retail, Not-for-profit, finance, the lot. But what about the luxury market? Here too the success of brands can be driven by a well planned and executed online and offline customer experience (of course as well as the highly developed brand status, quality of products, and huge advertising budgets). But how can it be done?
Through keen observation of some of the best brands in the luxury arena and through the work done at Webcredible, here are 5 key steps to follow to get your luxury brand delivering a powerful customer experience promise:
1. Market research & strategy
A good first step is to do some user experience related market research. Look at your competitors and benchmark their customer experience levels. Next, research the natural behaviours of your target customer segments to see how they interact with your brand, the brands of your competitors and other behaviours relating to technologies and habits that could be tapped to bring them to your brand. In our recent mCommerce study
we observed how consumers used their mobile phones over a 3 week period to see what natural behaviours brands could design for.
Just having the research however isn't really enough, it needs to be turned into a strategy. The customer experience strategy
will consist of quick reference customer types that show the key experience drivers of your different segments, an overview of your business goals and KPIs, and a breakdown of your marketing strategy and digital strategy to map your customer experience across all aspects.
2. Multichannel moving to Omnichannel
It's vital that your customers can access your brand and products/services in whatever way they wish to interact with you, be it through a website, mobile site, social, in-store or over the phone. In the luxury market customers are more likely to have high expectations of consistency and levels of service so not only does each platform need to individually hit your customer experience levels but the transition between them also needs to be seamless. Luxury customers will expect to be able to look at a product on their mobile phone, save it and see the same product on their laptops when they get home or go into a store and try it on.
Luxury market consumers are also more likely to be early adopters of technology so a great way to get ahead of the competition is to add the new channels to your portfolio first, while there is a lot less noise in the market place.
Tightly coupling customer customer experience strategy
(as discussed in point 1 above) with brand strategy will make implementation of a multichannel customer experience much easier. This is because the customer experience strategy helps to identify all the channels customers naturally expect or want to use.
3. Visual design & functionality
Success of a luxury brand are dependent in part on their aspirational qualities and brand image. This is something that all luxury brands do well and know how to do. But beautiful on-brand aesthetics need to be delivered with interactions that are designed from a usability point of view
to ensure that every aspect is easy to use for your customers. Check outs, forms, and login areas are common areas where things go wrong, often key usability aspects are compromised when visual design is implemented. They need to be designed and tested with the target markets to ensure they offer a smooth experience for customers.
4. Control & responsibility
Control and responsibility over the customer experience strategy and implementation is a new concept in a number of markets, but in the luxury arena it is key. Consumers expect to get the same aspirational brand experience no matter what platform they are on, and equally no matter where in the world they are. They expect to be able to order and receive the same products and services 24/7, globally and on all channels. This could become a logistical nightmare so alongside the brand controllers, it is important to have professional user experience controllers at key gateways too.
5. Internal buy-in
Finally, it is really important to get everyone bought into the customer experience targets and vision. As the customer experience does need to be designed across all platforms and areas, everyone needs to know and believe in it, from the graphic designer, to the CEO, to the security guard and the sales assistant. We've found that this is the best way to make sure that you online and offline customer experience is seamless, and in the luxury market in particular that is what is expected.
How do you implement your customer experience strategy to drive customer loyalty? Have you seen any great luxury brands that have done it well? Let us know in the comments below, we'd be really interested to see what you've encountered!