The ‘care’ in customer care

Experiential consumption also means giving luxury clients what’s not asked for


Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Take a minute and think of all the ‘relationship managers’ and ‘customer service executives’ you have interacted with. Now think of the one who you thought was exceptional. Chances are that the one you liked went a little farther than the rulebook expected him to go. He actually took the ‘care’ in customer care seriously.

To provide good service a manager needs to first know his customer well. The luxury shopper, usually a high net-worth client, is money-rich and time-poor. He doesn’t have the spare time to separate the wheat from the chaff. Be it a millennial customer or someone from an older generation, the client is well travelled, discerning, demanding. But of all the things he expects from a luxury purchase, the most important is the experience he derives from it.

Customer demands have moved away from conspicuous consumption to experiential consumption. It is no longer just about buying a luxury product, rather t is about having a new experience in life. One of our customers recently paid top dollars to take a group of 15 people to a seven-star chateau, where they spent a weekend with a Michelin-starred chef just to experience top-end cooking. The group shopped for the ingredients with the chef, cooked alongside him and experienced some amazing meals and wines.

To keep the client coming back, you have to give him a delightful experience every time, sometimes do something he didn’t directly ask for.

This reminds me of one of our relationship managers who guessed from his client’s voice over the phone that he was down with a cold. Knowing that the client would be travelling, he rang up his hotel and got a ‘kara’, a home-made remedy for cough and cold sent to the room. The client was delighted to know he was cared for. Technically, the manager’s role ended at coordinating the travel arrangements, but it is the little extra he did that led to a ‘wow’ moment for the client. To create such moments it is vital to be proactive to the needs of the client whenever possible.

The devil is in the details and it is absolutely necessary to pay attention to the little things, as, ultimately, they are the difference between good service and a great experience. So, if you wish to leave the client spellbound, make sure the service or the product is in tune with his needs. When a pure vegetarian and non-alcoholic client decides to throw a dinner party in France serving French cuisine, you get together with the chef and get him to prepare a fare without using a trace of meat and alcohol. In short, you customise! As a luxury concierge, we cannot expect our clients to feel on top of the world just because we got him the tickets to a sold-out concert—this is something he has come to expect of us. Instead, we look for ways to go the extra mile to establish a non-transactional relationship with him. Remember, it is not always about the grand things. Recently, a client asked us to deliver a book to his office, one he wasn’t able to find in his city. We got the book and knew that the client was headed for a holiday. We ensured he found the book in his hotel room, instead of sending it to his office, in case he wanted to do a little holiday reading. His delight knew no bounds.

We are at an inflection point in customer care; and expectations from services have evolved. The customer wants to be surprised and wants the service provider to go beyond the usual. Clients want to add experiences to their life and these experiences then become stories which get shared in circles, ultimately leading to the brand or service getting recognised for being a customer’s delight.

Mishti Bose is group CEO of Quintessentially Lifestyle, a global lifestyle services company.

Fine Print runs viewpoints on luxury and design by different experts. Respond to this column at feedback@livemint.com

READ MORE