• The Service Attitude

The customer experience revolves around details. Aside from the responsiveness of the salespeople, a good customer experience consists of having needs met, questions answered, and a just-right attentive nature. A customer who leaves a store, with or without having made a purchase, feeling like they have been well taken care of are most likely to return.

As a result, taking the pulse of a business’ Service Attitude is a good way to analyze how effective their staff is in delivering the promised customer service experience.

Knowing the Product

Customers often have specific needs or wants in mind when they shop: they’re looking for a dinner jacket that isn’t too formal, or a pair of heels that can be worn both to work and for a night out. They want to know about the durability, versatility, what it’s made out of and how to look after it. Knowing the details of the products is a surefire way to gain a customer’s confidence and boost a salesperson’s ability to close a deal.

Being able to tell a customer about a product reassures them that they have made a good decision – it validates their choices. Product knowledge goes beyond mentioning product features – material, prices, etc. – but is also about highlighting the benefits of a product. It’s about describing the full experience of the product in order to inspire the most confidence.

As it turns out, the most product savvy salespeople can be found in Amsterdam and Singapore, followed closely by those in Madrid and Mumbai. In the luxury segment, the cities that boast the highest level of product knowledge include Amsterdam, Barcelona, Macau, Sao Paulo, and Paris, to name a few. Most of these cities feature once again in the mid-luxury segment, while the mainstream segment suggests that you can only find 100% product knowledgeable salespeople in Sydney and Singapore.

Conversely, the lack of product knowledge was most notable in Osaka, across the luxury and mid-luxury fashion segments of this study. In the mid-luxury segment, Osaka is joined by Ho Chi Minh City. In mainstream, poor product knowledge presented itself in Seoul and Antwerp.

Product features staff knew:

  • Available Styles, Colors, or Models - 86%

  • Price - 61%

  • How to Use/Wear the Product - 40%

  • Product/Brand History - 18%

  • Product Manufacturing Process - 18%

  • Servicing, Warranty & Repair Information - 12%

  • Product Distribution & Delivery - 10%

Product benefits staff highlighted:

  • Quality - 73%

  • Outstanding/Recognizable Design 53%

  • Durability - 38%

  • Prestige - 27%

  • Value for Money - 26%

  • After-Sales Service Availability - 12%

Identifying Customer Needs

It’s one thing to understand why a customer might want a product, it’s a completely different thing to be able to match a product – its features and benefits – to a customer’s need. For example, customers don’t necessarily want to know about the fact that the company believes in saving the pandas or only uses recycled paper. Good causes, both, certainly, but customers may not necessarily care. The statistics show that most shoppers want their salesperson to be able to tell them about what styles and colours are available, how best to use the product, how much it’s going to cost them, and what sort of warranty/repair policies are in place. In short, a customer who needs a new pair of jeans is interested in the fact that they come in red, black, and traditional blue with the option of straight or flair cuts and may not care about the brand’s hand-stitching processes.

Empathy plays a vital role in identifying and understanding what a customer is after. Exploring a customer’s idea of a product is a good way to understand what purpose they have in mind; a pair of jeans, in traditional blue, suitable for a casual work function, for example, is different from a pair of pre-torn jeans to be worn to a nightclub.

Getting to the bottom of it…

In Tokyo and Amsterdam, staff are most likely to identify a shopper’s needs. Strangely, however, only half of the staff in Tokyo made a suitable recommendation based on their identification. This infers a lack of understanding, which goes hand-in-hand with identifying a customer’s needs. For the highest scoring in this arena, the data points to Chicago, Sao Paulo, and Beijing. Conversely, Osaka and San Francisco leave their shoppers adrift where less than a third of the staff makes an effort to understand a customer’s needs.

54%

Listened Carefully

52%

Asked open-ended question

24%

Proposed different products.

19%

Rephrased the request

16%

Asked for clarification when in doubt

Letting them try it…

Part of making recommendations after having successfully identified and understood a customer’s need is letting a customer see for themselves. Once again this is about validating choices – a customer is going to be more satisfied with a product they have tried for themselves in-store before making a purchase. Humans are a tactile species; a heightened sense of touch allows humanity to experience the product in such a way that they can imagine what it might be like to own it.

According to the data collected here, 77% of shoppers would like a salesperson to encourage them to try the product. Customers prefer to do this during the conversation about the product – while its features and benefits are being discussed. Globally, 63% of staff are doing this, with Sydney leading the way at 93% of sales staff encouraging the trying of a product. Milan and Amsterdam bring up the rear in this regard, with 30% and 35% respectively.

MainstreamMid-LuxuryLuxury
Most EncouragementSydney & SingaporeMacau, Amsterdam, Sydney & Sao PauloAntwerp, Seoul, New Dehli, Macau, Los Angeles, San Francisco & Tokyo
Least EncouragementMelbourneMilanMilan

Making Additional Recommendations

Cross- and upselling are proven techniques to improving sales margins. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why. According to the opinion poll about this subject, 80% of shoppers would like a salesperson to recommend additional products. It’s important to understand the implications of that number: it means that 80% of customers across the global fashion industry are open to a cross-sell opportunity.

Sales staff do not always make the most of these opportunities. The overall leaders in this are New Delhi in the luxury segment, Kuala Lumpur in mid-luxury, and Los Angeles in mainstream. Rather shockingly, however, is that salespeople in Paris, one of the top luxury fashion destinations in the world, fail to make any recommendations. That is 0% in recommendations, equating to many missed opportunities.

MainstreamMid-LuxuryLuxury
Most RecommendingSingapore & SydneyMacau, Dubai & AmsterdamMacau, Kuala Lumpur & New Dehli
Least RecommendingMacau, Hong Kong, Manila & MadridBejing & MadridParis

© AQ Service International 2016  | The Global Fashion Benchmark Report, all content thereof, research contained therein, and all data are copyright of AQ Services International. You may not reproduce or communicate any of the content, including all data, without the express permission of the copyright owner.