3 Ways Unified Customer Data Can Boost Clienteling Efforts

​3 Ways Unified Customer Data Can Boost Clienteling Efforts

​3 Ways Unified Customer Data Can Boost Clienteling Efforts

Are you overlooking an opportunity to grow your business? To build customer loyalty? Or to increase profit? If you haven’t considered clienteling—the practice of offering special perks, extra associate attention, and personalized customer experiences to your high-value clients—you could be missing out on a chance to make the most from your most enthusiastic buyers.

Too often retailers overlook clienteling as an option because of how much work it used to take to support a strong clienteling strategy. After all, there’s a long list of retail objectives that business leaders seek to maximize, including strengthening margins, turning inventory as fast as possible, decreasing unnecessary financial overhead, and countless other checkpoints.

The biggest problem with clienteling has always been the tremendous effort it took to have anything more than a distant, on-again-off-again relationship with large numbers of your most well-heeled customers. How can you get the insight to know each one’s likes and dislikes, their preferred channels, unspoken needs, ever-shifting tastes, and propensities to spend—at a scale and efficiency that doesn’t eat into the outsized returns these customers can deliver?

Some brands and retailers now use marketing technology (martech) such as Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) to automate and personalize all the parts of the customer journey that happen long before the consumer sets foot in the store or clicks the “confirm order” button. The best CDPs easily merge data from web browsing, social media, previous purchases, ad responses, and more—to create a unified customer profile for targeting and personalizing customer journeys that get your best customers ready for online and offline clienteling experiences.

3 Tips for More Cost-effective Clienteling

At its core, clienteling is all about customer personalization and tailored customer experiences (CX). To help your unique brand boost clienteling efforts, consider the following three tips, which many major retailers and brands already use to boost returns.

Tip #1: Retailers Need to Capture Omnichannel Customer Behavior

The path to purchase is not straight. Customers are often distracted by competitive brands, unexpected product promotions, price comparisons and, of course, their own personal lives that can take them off the path of an intended transaction. Keeping this in mind, how can your brand maintain a relationship with customers—despite the roadblocks that will undoubtedly get in their way on this often bumpy path to buy?

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Gaining insight at every touchpoint your customer makes with your business is an essential aspect of strong customer clienteling. Knowing when they’re thinking about major purchases—or are receptive to your suggestions—gives you a tremendous advantage. It’s through this clarity that retailers can gain insight on customer behavior that may include everything from customer distractions to customer preferences to customer purchases. Additionally, the data collected from these touchpoints can offer more insight on CX outcomes—ultimately helping your unique business boost customer retention through more strategic clienteling efforts. Collectively, these efforts could help to ensure that your business does not have a disconnection with your customers across any channels in which they choose to engage—including but not limited to social media, email marketing, online searches, and even your branded website.

Tip #2: Retailers Must Connect Online and Offline Data and Clienteling Initiatives

Consider a recent purchase you made. How did the very first engagement of that purchase journey begin? Was it online? Was it in a physical store? Or were you inspired by seeing someone sporting something you wanted?

Now consider this same scenario for a friend who falls within an entirely different generation and has entirely different shopping preferences than you do.

The reality is, consumers are different, and the path to purchase is not the same for everyone. For some consumers, this means purchasing primarily online while other customers prefer in-store purchases but online research prior to their purchase. There is no right or wrong scenario, yet there is a wrong way to manage this as a business leader—and that’s by not connecting and unifying individual online and offline behavior.

A holistic understanding of customer behavior is the foundation for offering relevant, real-time experiences that are friction-free and increase customer loyalty and customer engagement alike. The real goal, of course, is capturing customer dollars. And through omnichannel-centric technology that supports hyper-personalized customer experiences, this is possible.

Tip #3: Retailers Must Empower Employees to Boost Clienteling

Your company’s employees are your strongest advocates in boosting your brand reputation and profit. It’s their efforts that often make or break a client’s experience with your company. Because of this, it’s essential to empower your employees to be the best brand advocates of your business, including:

  • Provide employees with adequate and updated training experiences to support sales, marketing, and communication efforts with customers
  • Give employees up-to-date information about each individual customer, along with personalized suggestions and next-best actions for associates to take if initial actions and suggestions don’t close the sale
  • Offer clear expectations of performance standards and review expectations, including but not limited to bi-annual reviews
  • Deliver routine opportunities for employees to gain inventory and vendor insight

Here again, CDPs help business leaders get the insights they need to make clienteling an important part of their standard operating procedures. CDPs can be used to identify and flag the most profitable customers, and to push tasks onto associates’ handheld devices. This helps businesses to truly know who their customers are through their CDP’s flexible data analytics, identity resolution, and data transparency.

Finally, remember that a sustained boost in clienteling only comes with the commitment to support customers from all touchpoints, at all times, at all points during their buying journey. If you’re ready to boost your clienteling efforts, learn more here.

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the founder and publisher of RetailMinded.com, a well-respected retail industry resource that has been recognized worldwide for its leading business insight since 2007. With a core concentration on independent retailers, small businesses, technology, and how the various touchpoints of commerce influence modern merchants, Reyhle is a frequent guest and contributor to media outlets including, The Today Show, Forbes, Entreprenuer.com, and countless B2B publications. Additionally, Reyhle has been the spokesperson for American Express’s Small Business Saturday since 2014 and is the author of the book “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business” from McGraw-Hill. Recognized within the top 10 out 100 worldwide retail thought leaders since 2015—including having held the #1 spot—and a retail “futurist” for IBM, Reyhle is also the co-founder of the Independent Retailer Conference. Learn more about Reyhle at RetailMinded.com.
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