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Enhancing the Customer Experience of the Wealthy

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Best practices report points to practices high end furniture/ home furnishings stores should follow. According to the latest research, "Enhancing the Customer Experience of the Wealthy: Best Practices Report," from the New York based Luxury Institute (www.luxuryinstitute.com), companies that cater to the wealthy are not doing nearly enough to enhance their customers' experiences and by failing to do so, they are losing out on potential sales, profits and customer loyalty. "Enhancing the Customer Experience of the Wealthy: Best Practices Report" surveyed more than 200 households with a minimum of $200,000 in annual income, and net worth of at least $750,000 (including home equity) to determine how companies can best serve the affluent in customer information and customer recognition. A Wealth of Lost Opportunities "Wealthy consumers, who are among the savviest of businesspeople, are fully aware of the capabilities and tools that firms have available to enhance their customer experiences. and they expect top companies to use them," observes Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza "High net worth individuals are sending a loud and clear message and marketers who fail to listen, and act, risk losing the game to more nimble competitors. Luxury firms should be at the forefront of implementing high-touch/high-tech enhancements to create a customized customer experience. "I've spoken with scores of leaders from firms that cater to the wealthy and most are completely focused on their products and channels while largely ignoring the customer experience, which ultimately is what luxury consumers are buying," says Pedraza, whose clients include the leading private jet, luxury real estate, travel and leisure, credit card, and private banking institutions. Customer Recognition: Bungling the Basics Wealthy consumers demand respect and recognition for their high-priced purchases and business. Astonishingly, companies focused on the wealthy are fumbling the ball on seemingly obvious things like tracking customer complaints, customer preferences and customer value. Nearly three quarters (74 percent) of wealthy respondents say that companies that use best practices should keep track of all customer complaints and how they were resolved. This strong sentiment was followed by 65 percent saying firms need to know individual purchasers' preferences for doing business with the company. How long one has been a customer was important to 62 percent of respondents while 58 percent say companies need to have a record of how many times a customer contacted the company and what happened as a result. Best Practices in Customer Information Management Not surprisingly, privacy and security topped the list of concerns among well-to-do consumers. "Don't share my information without my permission" and "Use the best security to keep my personal data protected" are the two most dominant messages coming from wealthy Americans to the companies that cater to them. Not sharing information without permission was extremely important to 88 percent of respondents, while 84 percent say companies must safeguard their data with the best security possible. "I like to know that my information remains confidential," writes a responder with a net worth of $30 million, "this frequently leads my decision as to whether to do business with a company or not." Wealthy consumers, however, do not mind sharing essential data with companies they deal with, in fact, most recognize that the more a company knows about them, the better they're able to serve them. More than two-thirds (68 percent) say that capturing and storing data is crucial so that customers do not need to provide it repeatedly, although 67 percent emphasize that companies need to tell them clearly how that data will improve their customer experience. The ultra high net worth (more than $30 million in assets) are especially adamant about this, with 83 percent saying companies should not ask for their information if they don't explain how it will be put to use. Enhancing the Experience: What High-End Marketers Must Do More than ever, consumers will be unforgiving with luxury firms that remain narrowly focused on products and channels instead of evolving into a customer experience-focused enterprise. Fortunately, the solutions are readily available to those firms willing to adapt. Companies deriving a large share of profits from high net worth customers need to have databases that contain accurate and detailed customer profiles with measures of customer value and loyalty‹but must treat all customers with a high standard of service, regardless of loyalty rank. In addition, they must develop simple and clear privacy policies that are not based on "negative option" approaches that make customers work to protect their privacy‹and they need to prove to their wealthy customers that their information is protected by state-of-the art data security. The essentials of enhancing the customer experience include effective complaint management, seamless and consistent customer recognition, easy access to data, and optimized relationship building to improve cross-selling, up-selling, retention, and referrals. About the Luxury Institute: The Luxury Institute is a consulting and business intelligence firm that focuses on leading trends and best practices for enhancing the customer experience of wealthy consumers (the wealthiest 10 percent of American households). The Institute combines intimate industry knowledge and experience with exhaustive research on current market trends to develop actionable assessments for its subscribers. For more information please visit our web site at www.luxuryinstitute.com.

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