Today, in an era that digital acceleration is taking place and e-commerce reigns, physical retail stores remain important touchpoints to create a connection with a brand, and contributing to the overall customer experience. Retail employees have a vital role in this experience as their shared moments with the shoppers can affect their buying behavior and attitude towards a brand. During our team’s visit to the Bvlgari store in Geneva we understood why these personal moments can truly make an impact.
Showing genuine interest in people
Entering the Bulgari store, we knew what we were looking for, 3 friendship rings from the Serpenti collection. We were welcomed by the store employee and she asked us what we were looking for. Before trying on our rings, we embarked on a small journey to discover not only the history of the brand but also what makes Bulgari unique. She learned our names, where we come from, what we do and how we became friends, all while explaining the history and making parallels between the history of the founder and ourselves. It felt more like a meeting with a new friend than a salesperson trying to make a sale.
Personalised shopping experience
After receiving a small tour around the store, the employee escorted us to a more secluded section of the store to try on our rings. As we sat down, she wanted to learn more about our style. Which type of gold do we prefer? Diamonds or coloured gemstones? How do we describe our personal style?
We answered all the questions and we could already trust that she understood what we were looking for, as a result we gladly accepted all her recommendations. When she returned with our Serpenti rings we were not disappointed. Three different colours, matching our tastes. She gave us more information about the rings’ craftsmanship as well as tips on how to wear them and style them with other rings.
It takes a fan to spot a fan
The conversation around the gemstones, the history of the collection and how to style the jewellery was flowing (as well as some jokes from both parties) but a notification to the employee’s phone was the spark that ignited a bonding moment. What caused it? Elisabeth Taylor. Her phone wallpaper was a picture of Elisabeth Taylor from a charity costume ball in 1967, where she was wearing the Nightly Necklace, made of emeralds and diamonds, a legendary creation of Bulgari. One of the girls of the group spotted the photo. They started talking about their favourite creations of the house, Elisabeth Taylor and her fine jewellery collection and the pieces auctioned from Christie’s. Their shared excitement soon made the other girls feel it too. The conversation wasn’t anymore about a purchase, it was about a shared passion. At that moment we understood why a good and genuine interaction with an employee can turn shopping into a wonderful experience, making you look forward to your next one. She gave us her contact details, to ask questions or schedule another appointment with her next time we visit the store and we left with our Bulgari catalogue at hand.
Keeping up with the great service
It is one thing to recruit quality employees, but keeping them and ensuring their service will only become better is at least as important. In this case, we would firstly recommend the supervisor to acknowledge her unbelievable efforts by either giving her a raise or promoting her by giving her more responsibilities in the store. Finally, offering her the opportunity to travel to other stores in other countries or to the creative ateliers of Bulgari to have an immersive experience to expand her expertise so she has new things to share with customers. As we can notice she is already a fan of the brand and is inspired by it so it is essential to continue to motivate her by showing her she is a part of the family and the brand is grateful for her work.
It is in those small moments that an extra-role behaviour of an employee makes the difference to the retail experience of a customer. Nowadays, all the information regarding a product is available online and usually shoppers have already decided on what they are looking to buy, a genuine interaction though is something that can affect a purchase decision. Companies should focus their efforts not only to provide incentives but also leave room for their employees’ creativity and character to be shown.
By Diego Sotillo Horcajo, Dejan Prole, Catia Pires Vieira, Noémie Burckhardt, Alex Magliano, and Evangelia Kiki @HEC Lausanne