Clienteling – the secret to providing great service

, 24th May 2017

When it comes to customer experience, the difference between ‘good’ and ‘great’ comes down to the judicious and sensitive use of data to provide a personalised journey with the customer at its heart.

When it comes to customer experience, the difference between ‘good’ and ‘great’ comes down to the judicious and sensitive use of data to provide a personalised journey with the customer at its heart. There’s a fine line between clienteling (where a retail brand or sales person effectively uses their knowledge of a customer to make them feel special, understood and well advised) and intrusion (where the brand knows more than they should or uses personal information to take advantage of the customer). The key to walking this tightrope is to ensure that the customer also feels a benefit whenever you use the information you have about them, and to make sure they are given a choice about when and where this data is used.

Sales staff empowered with all-round knowledge about the customer’s wants and needs as well as stock availability and product information are able to provide exactly the right level of service, from online ordering in-store to upselling appropriate products to using beacons to identify and prepare for click and collect customers as soon as they enter the store.

The level of technology inside high street stores is increasing, from consumer phones to staff tablets, fixed display screens and wearables. But the true innovation is in connecting all of these devices to each other in real time via cloud platforms as well as to back end systems such as eCommerce and CRM so that retailers can:

  • identify customers
  • offer personalised service and increase loyalty by anticipating and delivering on needs
  • enable seamless checkouts
  • improve their operational performance

Plus, by mixing and matching device types depending on the exact situation, staff and customers can always have the experience that best suits the sale.

Take a look at this sample user story – it illustrates how a connected, personalised, one-to-one service can work:

Monday morning, 10:05

Anna, sales assistant at a luxury retailer, arrives at work and signs in to her company iPad. A notification informs her she is working on personal shopping duty today and makes sure the information and features she needs for her day’s work is right at hand.


Anna checks her calendar app and sees she has three appointments booked. She pulls up each of the customer details in advance and starts to pick out a few pieces the system has recommended for them based on their purchase history.


Anna’s first customer enters the store.

In-store tracking detects the customer’s phone and pings Anna a notification that she has arrived.


Anna’s tablet automatically pulls up the customer’s wish list, and they talk through the items.

She sends a couple of them to a display screen to highlight some of the finer details and chats through colour options.


The customer picks three items to try, and Anna has them waiting for her in the changing room by sending an instant message to the changing room assistant.


The customer decides to buy one of them and as part of the checkout process, Anna gets automatic recommendations for accessories that go with the purchase.

The customer pays using Anna’s mobile chip-and-pin reader and receives an email receipt, along with a link to the website to buy the two items she left behind if she changes her mind.


The sale is instantly tracked and attributed, and Anna checks her dashboard to see that she’s currently the second top sales assistant for her store. She vows to provide an excellent service to her next two appointments and take first place.

  • The result?
  • Happy customer - they’re pleased with their purchases and VIP treatment
  • Happy sales assistant - she has given a superior service, made the sales and had them attributed
  • Happy business – they have motivated staff, satisfied customers and increased sales

In the eyes of the customer, the lines have blurred between digital and physical retail to such a degree that divisions are non-existent. Now it’s down to retailers to use technical innovations to close the gaps in their own operations to offer customers the ‘joined up’ experience they’ve come to expect.