Carter Murray Retail had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Tahreem Riaz finding out the importance of customer service in luxury retail within the Middle East.
Tahreem is a retail professional with more than five years’ experience in high-end fashion & beauty and is currently working as a Service & Excellence Trainer for a leading luxury brand. As a Trainer Tahreem is constantly drawing up techniques and solutions to improve the luxury service experience, training stores in how to implement these techniques alongside teaching the importance of brand and product knowledge. A passion and love for fashion and beauty led her to create her own blog www.Xeniiss.com where she keeps her followers up to date with recommended beauty and fashion products.
What do you think the typical Middle-Eastern consumer looks for when entering a luxury store in terms of customer service?
The Middle-East is one of the few growing markets when it comes to retail and luxury, be it durable or nondurable goods, therefore it has a lot to offer new brands entering the market in terms of opportunities. In the same way, the Middle-Eastern consumer is always seeking new opportunities to experience excellence in a luxury service encounter. Whenever they enter a luxury store their expectations are extremely high particularly at certain touchpoints such as the initial welcome into the store and introduction to products. In addition, the Middle-Eastern consumer values a connection with the sales staff, understanding the customer’s personality is key as it allows the sales person to mold the service experience in turn better personalising their experience and increasing satisfaction. It is very important that sales executives build a lasting connection with the consumer in order to strengthen their relationship to the brand itself.
Do you think customer service techniques affect how Middle-Eastern shoppers buy and how?
Customer service is very important when it comes to luxury consumers, apart from some basic rules every brand has their own stylistic identity and a language through which they connect with their consumers. However, there are some techniques which can help understand a Middle-Eastern shopper better and in turn encourage positive consumer behavior:
• Build a ‘brand to consumer’ relationship through communicating the story behind the brand
• Personalise customer service to personality, culture and needs
• Share stories to better connect with the consumer
• Ask questions which are related to their needs
• Request feedback where appropriate to ensure the customer feels valued
It is very important that a relationship is built within the customer’s journey, particularly for the Middle-Eastern consumer as it makes them feel very comfortable in turn encouraging them to return to the store in the future.
Would you say the luxury service experience in the Middle East is different from other regions around the world and why?
The Middle -East is so rich in culture yet it's very contemporary, all nationalities are living together that’s what makes it different from other regions. There are so many luxury brands personalising categories and products to better target their consumers. I would say in the Middle-East customer service is much more exclusive than any other region due to the volume of luxury consumption therefore making it more competative and also due to the nature of the culture meaning service provided must be executed in a very respectful and exclusive manor.
What do you think are the key aspects a luxury retailer’s service strategy within the Middle East should have in order to target their audience?
Luxury is about exclusivity and craftsmanship and in a market such as the Middle-East which is so saturated by luxury goods it is key to communicate the heritage and values a brand is based around in order to portray a story and in turn build a connection with the consumer. With the Middle-East being relatively new for many luxury brands it's important that they are building brand awareness and effectively communicating brand values. Therefore I believe the key service technique that every luxury retailer in the Middle-East should employ is to train their brand ambassadors to speak a universal language that is effectively communicating brand heritage, values and what it means to own a piece of the story. That is the key to standing out in the crowd here in Dubai and the Middle-East.
Do you feel luxury retailers in this region could improve their service strategy and how?
A luxury brand must seek perfection and improve all the time. It is important that the luxury sectors understand the need to recruit talent based on a type of personality, someone that is passionate about the brand, positive in their outlook, able to speak the brands language and flexible to adopting new techniques. This in turn enables sales staff to perform to standards and improve KPI’S and productivity. The key techniques that should be adopted by every luxury brand ambassador is; to provide a warm welcome, ask great questions, build a relationship, tell stories, link the sales and close the sales. It is essential to a luxury brand that their representatives are educated and enthusiastic about the brand, always putting the customer first, focusing on details and taking ownership. It’s an everyday ritual to perform which will essentially improve service and S&P.