As a retailer—whether for a jewelry store, beauty brand, or furniture warehouse—creating a personalized experience for your customers is what will keep them coming back. If you have a physical store you’re looking to increase foot traffic to, or an online shopping experience, “clienteling” is a key way to boost customer satisfaction, build customer loyalty, and offer personalized recommendations to your customers.
In this article, we’ll explain what clienteling is, why it’s an important part of the customer experience, and how you can start clienteling at your retail business with ease.
What is clienteling?
Clienteling, or retail clienteling, is a technique used by retail sales associates to build long-term relationships with key customers.
Also known as “relationship-based selling”, clienteling involves sales teams keeping track of who comes into the store, noting customer preferences, and then making personalized offers and recommendations to build a personal customer experience along every step of the customer journey.
Why is clienteling important?
Clienteling has a number of advantages to support your financial goals, customer loyalty status, and more. Below are just a few of the benefits of clienteling to both your current and prospective customers.
Clienteling makes more personalized experiences for customers, and the more personalized your customer interactions are, the more likely they are to make a purchase. Survey data from Epsilon found that 80% of respondents are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences and 90% find personalization appealing.
Builds customer loyalty
Consistent clienteling also creates loyal customers who will shop with you more often—and spend more when they do. Data from Bain & Company found that just a 5% increase in customer retention translates to a 25% increase in profits. So the more your sales associates clientele, the more you’ll see repeat customers in your retail spaces.
Sets your business apart from the competition
Finally, clienteling will set your business apart from your competitors. As your sales associates make personalized product recommendations, learn your customers’ preferences, and stay in touch even after a sale has been made, your customers will feel the difference. Consistent clienteling paired with stellar customer service is the key to standing out from the other guys.
How do you do clienteling?
Now let’s dive into how your in-store associates can make clienteling happen at your retail stores. Here’s how it works:
First, a customer comes into one of your physical locations looking for a product. Your sales associate will learn what they’re looking for, if there’s a special occasion they’re buying for, and other customer insights. If the customer makes a purchase, the sales associate will keep track of what they bought and send recommendations for similar items in the future, particularly when they know a special event is coming up for the customer, like a birthday or anniversary.
Through clienteling, the sales associate gets to know the customer on a personal level and knows exactly what they might want to purchase in the future and when. It’s a win-win for both the customer experience and meeting your sales goals!
What are best practices for clienteling?
When it comes to clienteling, there are four core pillars every retailer must adopt in order to be successful. These clienteling pillars are: consolidate, simplify, automate, and insights.
Let’s look at each in more detail.
The first pillar is consolidate. When it comes to customer records, the current state of retail is a bit of a mess. Retailers have data in multiple silos (notebooks, spreadsheets, 3rd party messaging apps, point of sales systems, and more) making it difficult—if not impossible—to effectively clientele.
By consolidating all the customer profile data and bringing important information into one place, your sales associates can clientele with less frustration. You don’t necessarily need one piece of technology to do it all, but it is important that these systems talk and share information. A good place to start is by identifying all the different places in which your client information currently resides.
Second is simplify. In order to have clienteling success, you need to make things easy for your sales associates. Knowing who to send a follow-up reminder to shouldn’t take all day. Having client information in one place will certainly help, but that doesn’t mean you’ll know who to reach out to and when.
The right clienteling tool will enable sales associates to never miss a customer follow-up by automatically creating task reminders based on staff and store best practices. Putting common tasks like sending reviews and payment links or creating wish lists right at the fingertips of your sales associates will make life so much easier for them.
Third is automate. For most retailers, clienteling isn’t done consistently simply because it’s too manual, too time-consuming, and impossible to scale when you have thousands of clients.
A good sales associate has between 500 and 1,000 clients, depending on the industry. That’s a lot of personal notes, texts, and emails to write—and a lot of anniversaries, service dates, product updates, and names to remember.
So how do you automate personalized service while still keeping it personal?
You don’t automate the whole thing. You enter key information, set key reminders, and automate tasks that lead to personal interaction. Most importantly, you take the data you’ve collected and use it to create a sequence for the post-sales journey. Hitting them with the right message at the right time will bring them back to the store again and again, while freeing up the sales associate from the manual grunt work, allowing them to do what they do best: sell!
Fourth is insights. You can’t change or fix what you can’t measure. All of those client interactions and engagements create a powerful history and should give you actionable data. This will enable you to make better decisions when you are buying products and planning sales events. Having this information easily accessible in one place saves you a lot of headaches and allows you to set trackable goals.
Equally important is having the ability to measure and track every aspect of your sales process and the activities of your sales associates.
Clienteling is an important way to build more personal relationships with customers and keep them coming back to your store time and time again. By following the steps in this article, you’ll be well on your way to retaining key customers and driving your sales through the roof.