How Luxury Brands Measure Customer Experience
Any marketing manager would probably agree that a brand that does not measure its customer experience is like a surgeon operating in the dark: they’re taking a huge risk.
This is no less true for luxury brands than for their mass-market counterparts, but unfortunately luxury brands face several unique challenges that other brands do not.
- Due to the comparatively low traffic in luxury boutiques, it is extremely difficult to engage with non-buyers.
- The affluent consumers who patronize such boutiques are often unwilling to take surveys.
- The most relevant approach, store interviews, is costly to implement and scale up.
As a result, many brands rely on a post-purchase questionnaire they administer to clients after they buy an item. However, this approach is deeply flawed. Consider that a consumer who makes a purchase most likely had a good customer experience with the brand; this alone will skew the overall results towards the positive. Then, consider that the sales associate always has the option of simply not giving a customer the survey if they suspect the response will not be positive, which will further distort the data. And finally, remember that the average conversion rate is only about 15% for luxury boutiques, meaning that this method completely ignores 85% of the brand’s customers.
Considering all of these factors, luxury brands must consider that any data they are getting from this methodology is very likely artificially high. Yes, it is still possible to see trends, but the overall data is fundamentally unreliable. Moreover, it is a particularly dangerous: inaccurate negative feedback at least motivates change, but inaccurate positive feedback can mask significant areas of consumer dissatisfaction and lead to a comfortable complacency with ineffective processes.
Our view is that customer experience must be measured from the perspective of both buyers and non-buyers, but critically, this must be combined with a detailed analysis of what the customer perceives at every stage of their interaction with the brand. Such a granularity can only be achieved by Store Performance Evaluation programs, using trained evaluators whose profiles are similar to that of the brand’s core clientele. These consumers are able to measure and evaluate the customer experience they have with the brand throughout their journey, from the website to the store. When the data from their evaluations is aggregated, correlation analysis makes it possible to uncover the moments that drive not just customer experience, but emotional engagement and brand advocacy, giving the brand crucial guidance on where and how it should focus its training programs to achieve the most significant results.
Brands can and should combine these two complementary approaches—surveys of both purchasing and non-purchasing consumers and customer experience evaluation by trained evaluators— in order to gain the most accurate and actionable understanding of their customer’s expectations. Only with this kind of information can they hope to deliver extraordinary customer experiences that delight not only 15% of consumers but 100% of them.
Owner & CEO at Albatross Global Solutions