Climate control

5th Sep 2017

In the latest issue of Customer Focus, New Look’s Head of Customer Service, Louise Moghaddam, discusses how the retail chain keeps abreast of upheavals in the international retail climate and the fast-changing expectations of its many millennial customers. 

Innovation is more than “the sexy stuff” 

The foundation that the traditional relationship between the customer and the retailer was built upon has been shaken up by the advent of online shopping – and then the dawn of mobile. Staying ahead of the technological curve is important, but that doesn’t mean forgetting who is at the heart of this: the customer. 

Moghaddam attests: “We realised that innovation for us isn’t just about technical solutions or all the sexy stuff. Some of it is just about the most important thing you can have when you are on the shop floor, a fantastic personality. We can teach our staff how to use a till, how to do orders in store, how to process a click-and-collect order, but the most important thing is how to showcase their personality with a customer.

“Yes, we are there to sell but actually if the conversation isn’t about selling – if it’s about saying to a customer: ‘You look fantastic today, where did you get your shoes?’ – and if it happens to lead to a sale, that’s brilliant. But if it doesn’t, that’s also fine because it means that we’ve given the customer some sort of experience, which they will hopefully remember.”

How to hire a human 

Bringing a “fantastic personality” to the shop floor requires a change in the recruitment process, namely a shift from solely competency-based hiring. 

Moghaddam explains: “Being able to have really genuine, authentic conversations with our customers requires a slightly different sort of person.

“We ask applicants to interact with a customer and have a really nice conversation with them; that’s even before they get into the interview room – and that’s a critical step for us.

“It has to be genuine and feel real to our customers, because they can spot fakes a mile off. A huge amount of scripting doesn’t work, so we don’t have any.”

Get board endorsement 

The Chief Executive of New Look, Anders Kristiansen, is a champion of customer service. Moghaddam believes this is strategically key as it allows her to present the customer story at board level. 

She says: “Historically we’ve been a very trade-driven business and as social media has taken over the world and as millennials have come of age, we’ve got to go on more of a brand journey as an organisation. We can service the voice of the customer and get it heard directly within our boardroom. 

“Whether that’s about the importance of having reliable delivery services or about what our customers are looking for in terms of resourcing levels in our stores – having a voice at the board is really important.”

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