Online competition, the overall economic climate, and a lack of consumer/millennial demand are the top three challenges identified in JCK’s second annual State of the Jewelry Industry Report for 2019.
The survey polled 500 respondents, primarily retailers, and included a sample of manufacturers, designers, and wholesalers. Social media now tops the list of priorities to combat these challenges, replacing improvements to the in-store buying experience, which ranked as the highest priority in 2018 (although a third still consider this very important).
The biggest challenge for retailers that Shep Hyken, customer service and experience expert and bestselling author, sees is being compared to the best service consumers have ever had. Hyken was the keynote speaker at The Plumb Club-hosted Breakfast Symposium during JCK Las Vegas, entitled: “Today’s Customer Experience—Satisfaction Guaranteed Is No Guarantee.”
“Customers are smarter than ever. Competition is no longer limited to direct competitors; rather, consumers are comparing each retailer to the best service they’ve ever had,” Hyken says. “Amazon, Zappos, hotels like the Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons: ‘Why can’t you be as good as this guy, raising the bar continually. Satisfaction is a rating; loyalty is an emotion. There’s a difference between a satisfied and loyal customer. We want people to enjoy doing business with us and refer their friends, and that doesn’t happen if we’re just satisfactory.”
Hyken references companies like Scandinavian Airlines and Disney, companies that focus on the customer journey, with each interaction treated as an opportunity to make an excellent first impression. Called “cast members,” Disney employees are trained “to manage the magic” of the brand throughout the experience, he cites.
The fine is not fine, Hyken emphasizes, calling it the “F-bomb” of customer service. “FINE = Fake smile, Insincere feedback, Never coming back. Emotionless.” But he advocates that amazing is not out of reach.
“The idea is to be better than satisfactory, at least 10% better than average consistently,” Hyken says. The attributes that make you extraordinary — demonstrating knowledge and expertise, being friendly, positive, and helpful, building rapport, and digging deeper with questions. “Spend time with customers. Time is precious. When you give customers your time, you create moments of magic; you build confidence and take the relationship to the next level.”
Hyken acknowledges that moments of misery and mediocrity will happen, but how we turn them into opportunities for something better is what sustains confidence. “Recognize the opportunities to give an enhanced level of experience.”
Preceding Hyken’s presentation, the Diamond Producers Association (DPA), co-sponsor of The Plumb Club symposium, updated retail jewelers about how the group is working to ignite the market downstream with key initiatives based on essential diamond truths.
In addition to expanding its consumer interface, ‘Real is Rare, Real is a Diamond’campaign, with its “For Me, From Me” female self-purchase campaign (with this demographic identified as the biggest engine for growth), DPA commissioned independent research on the modern diamond mining industry.
Independent data, compiled by Trucost ESG Analysis, a part of S&P Global, measured the total benefits and impacts of the diamond mining activities of DPA’s seven members, who represent 70% of the world’s diamond production, across 21 socioeconomic and environmental indicators based on data for over 150 different metrics from their operations on 35 sites across four continents.
At JCK, DPA revealed the findings of its “Total Clarity: The Reality of Modern Diamond Mining Report.” The report found the diamond sector to be one of the most regulated in the world. Diamonds support the livelihood of 10 million people worldwide. DPA members produce $16 billion of net benefits a year globally that are infused into communities through local employment, sourcing of goods and services, taxes and royalties, and social programs and infrastructure investment.
It found that DPA members pay employees and contractors on average 66% above national average salaries and that companies focus on employee training to ensure a high-skilled workforce. The diamond industry also experienced significant growth in the representation of women across the workforce as a result of DPA-member programs. Moreover, diamond recovery has a relatively small environmental footprint, relying on pressure and recycled water. However, the report creates a baseline for carbon emissions from which DPA members can show progress toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Trucost cites this report as the first time it has seen an industry come together to measure its environmental, social, and economic benefits and impacts. “This independent research report breaks outdated stereotypes and misconceptions and identifies the next set of challenges that must be met to continue to evolve and improve as an industry,” said Jean-Marc Lieberherr, Diamond Producers Association CEO, in a statement. “It also provides a baseline for industry participants and observers to track future progress.”
Cora Lee Colaizzi, marketing director and senior merchandiser for Quality Gold in Fairfield, Ohio, supports and encourages The Plumb Club to continue to test and find experiences that support the group’s mission statement to educate, innovate, and connect. She underscores the value of the Breakfast Symposium, Retail Innovation and Education Center in the Pavilion, and consumer market research undertaken by the trends forecasting agency, The Futurist for The Plumb Club.
The fact that The Plumb Club is doing its homework for its members helps us deliver the products and services that retailers can be successful with, tells Theresa Namie, merchandise manager for Ostbye, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Barbara Barry with the Marathon Company and the Kiddie Kraft brand, Attleboro, Massachusetts, applauds The Plumb Club’s investment in providing learning opportunities to retailers at trade shows in keynote presentations and attractions at the pavilion, as well as on its website in articles and webinars.