Customer care

Customer care and customer services are among the current buzzwords in the business vocabulary. Excellent customer service does not begin and end with placing pleasant looking employees behind polished desks to respond to queries. Effective customer care is extended to every aspect of a customer's contact with a brand. The current reality is that the majority of luxury brands have a poor rating among consumers with regard to the provision of customer services both online and offline. This is because, for a long time, the luxury sector focused on product sales rather than customer experience enhancement as a source of advantage. The internet has however made the challenge of achieving consistent and efficient customer services easy.

Online consumers lack the human interaction of offline retailing and this factor must be compensated to enhance the web experience. Some ways of achieving this and enhancing customer services online are the following:

• Fast and reliable delivery of goods.

• Quick returns, refunds and exchanges of goods.

• After-sales services both online and offline.

Figure 6.13

Eluxury.com's live chat facility provides instant shopping assistance in an efficient manner (June 2006)

Figure 6.13

Eluxury.com's live chat facility provides instant shopping assistance in an efficient manner (June 2006)

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• Live online chat with a customer services representative.

• Direct telephone link facilities from the website.

• E-notes facilities for message posting.

• Online bulletin boards.

• Online personal shopper.

• E-news subscription.

• Instant online fashion coordination.

• Extensive product view and description.

• Exclusive subscription offers to fashion shows and product previews.

• High security transactions.

• Viral marketing tools.

• Permission marketing tools.

Online customer services programmes also provide an excellent medium of developing a customer database and gathering feedback from consumers. The majority of the existing luxury brands are far from implementing effective e-CRM strategies. A few exceptions are Gucci.com and Eluxury.com (Figure 6.13) which have implemented efficient means of interaction between their online customers and an available customer services staff.

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