My wife and I recently got to visit the Champs Élysées and the Montaigne Louis Vuitton stores in Paris. Both of us are fans of the LV brand, so this was a trip we looked forward to for months. We did a good bit of research to prepare for our trip. My wife went in knowing what kind of items she wanted, and I went in being forewarned by travel reviews about the long lines to get in the stores, the pushy shoppers jostling for position, and the condescending Client Advisors who act like they are doing you a favor by helping you complete a sale. What I happily found was none of my preconceived notions turned out to be true.
Granted – there is security at the door of both stores. At the Champs Élysées store, security guards check each guest with a hand-held metal detector. The line moved quickly however, and all the interactions I overheard with security were firm but very polite. Even on a Tuesday, there were a lot of shoppers in both stores but unlike some of the reviews that I read, I did not wrestle with fellow shoppers for a Client Advisor’s attention. As soon as we walked in both stores, I motioned for the first Client Advisor that I saw and in both stores, Advisors greeted us with warm welcomes.
During our LV visit, we were pampered beyond anything we’d expected. Our Fragrance Client Advisor sat us down and served us drinks while we sampled different scents. My wife chose an absolutely intoxicating fragrance and had her initials painted on her bottle in the store. In her distinctly Parisian accent, our Client Advisor asked my wife “may I now know your most beautiful initials?”. It was lavish and it was over the top, and it was wonderful. Louis Vuitton Paris was not just shopping; it was indulging.
A few LV receipts later, I am left to reflect on the “business” part our visit. I work in the digital world where user experience (UX) is defined and governed by what people see on a screen. Companies devote a dizzying amount of resources towards optimizing how well a visit to a website or an application goes. It seems to me that many companies (LV included) are not investing the same amount of time and energy towards analog user experience – in other words – the face to face interactions between customers and staff. I have been to several Louis Vuitton stores in the U.S., and I have never experienced the level of customer service that I did in Paris. The way we were treated in Paris translated directly into sales and ultimately strengthened our brand loyalty.
Here is the bottom line: If you are a company stakeholder and you are looking for ways to affect your profitability, look at the culture you are fostering towards analog user experiences. Customer service is a long-game investment, and not every store will serve champagne while you shop, but treating your customers right will always pay off in the end.
“If you make a sale, you can make a living. If you make an investment of time and good service in a customer, you can make a fortune.”
– Jim Rohn