Customer service, premium, customer care, after-sales service

At the end of 2009, the Boulanger retail chain launched “My advisor & me” appointments for loyalty card holders: the customer can make an appointment by telephone for a personal interview in store, 24 to 48 hours later, with an expert salesperson exclusively dedicated to it. A service-plus, symptomatic of the trend of the moment: rehumanizing the relationship, restoring tailor-made… for a certain category of clientele, the most loyal!

The low cost pure and hard less popular
The customer relationship resumes service
Long live “customer care”:human contact is becoming rare, the consumer must be treated
When Twitter comes to the rescue of technical assistance…

the low cost pure and hard would he no longer be popular? Saturn, the “stingy sly” distributor (subsidiary of the German Metro group), leaves a slate of tens of millions of euros. Its electrical appliances stores, however, aspired to dethrone Darty or Fnac. They had to throw down the gauntlet in the fall of 2010.
The 34 stores will be taken over by Boulanger (97 stores in France). “The whole challenge for Boulanger will be to bring this low-cost brand to a culture of service”, deciphers Ralph Hababou, president of PB-RH Conseil and co-author of Customer Service for Dummies (First editions).
What was Saturn missing? An after-sales service, cultivated by the leader (Darty) as well as by the challenger (Boulanger) and recognized by consumers. “Saturn was 100% low-cost and did not generate margins to finance its structural costs, while Boulanger offers services. The brand has its own brand (Essentiel B), on which it makes comfortable margins”, diagnoses Ralph Hababou.

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In 2011, customer relations will therefore resume service. Symptomatic of this rediscovered taste for service, the three mobile telephone operators changed their slogans at the same time, at the end of last year: “Life changes with Orange”, “Carrément vous” (SFR), “En do more for you” (Bouygues Telecom). In a society that is increasingly automating customer relations – in 2011, people print their SNCF tickets, consult their accounts on the internet, fill out forms on online sales sites, etc. -, the rare points of human contact must be an opportunity to pamper the consumer.

It’s the era of customer carethe care given to the customer.

The heart of the strategy

Excellence here is to be found in the brand policy, as with Carglass, Leroy Merlin, Nespresso or Boulanger. How do you think Leroy Merlin overtook Castorama to become number one in DIY in France? By further cultivating listening and customer service. This has been the core of its strategy for fifteen years. Its program, Voice of the Customer, collects complaints and strives to resolve them quickly. A unique number and a strong promise, a response within 48 hours to any request received by the Net, mail or telephone.

In 2010, a mystery survey once again rewarded Leroy Merlin for the excellence of his customer service. Another good practice is that of Nespresso. It’s not about selling a coffee pod machine “in a box,” it’s about cultivating “the superior service experience,” as house marketing lingo goes. In its customer cult, Nespresso focuses on customer life time value, in other words the value of a customer over time. The brand is able to recognize and reward a customer who buys their seventh machine. “A car manufacturer is incapable of knowing whether a customer is buying their seventh Peugeot or Renault. But Nespresso can,” emphasizes Ralph Hababou. The customer as a whole

In the near future, one of the growing challenges of customer relations will be to acquire a computer tool that can understand the customer as a whole. Today, a bank can offer you a commercial offer by telephone that you have already refused to your branch adviser. In short, the company wants to be “multi-channel”, but the channels do not communicate – not enough – with each other! Finally, in the most successful brands and businesses, social networks come to the rescue of customer service. Tasti D-Lite, an ice cream and dessert chain (60 restaurants in the United States), has paired its loyalty card with Foursquare and Twitter. The partnership with the networks improves the effectiveness of its loyalty policy.

Best Buy, the American leader in the distribution of household electrical equipment, has been using Twitter since July 2009 to offer technical assistance in near real time. The brand has created the Twelpforce: 2,500 Best Buy employees exchange opinions and advice with consumers, 24 hours a day, via the microblogging platform. There are always at least 400 sellers connected to Twitter to respond to a usage issue within the hour, not the four to five days that competitors have. “It’s much more effective than a community manager who would look for answers listed in a bible of procedures!”, underlines Yan Claeyssen, CEO of Eto, specialist in multichannel direct marketing.

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