For anyone who has read any of my blogs, you will know that customer service is something that is very important to me, whether that’s giving it or receiving it. And with the digital age, such as it is now, it is the main thing that makes customers visit the old bricks and mortar shops (other than wanting an item now, this very minute, cannot wait two days for it to arrive in the post!).
We have all experienced cases of bad customer service, but I like to focus on the positive – and this blog is about the great customer service a small lingerie boutique can offer you, that a larger department store or an online boutique can’t.
So, other than being polite, what can a small boutique offer its customers that they can’t get elsewhere?
Unlike an E-shop, many brick-and-mortar boutiques offer a free fitting service. Yes, you can send items bought online back if they don’t fit, but the shop owner can’t fit for you. There are various online bra size calculators out there that can give a good indication of size, but, like any clothes, not all bras come up exactly the same fit, even in the same size.
By knowing how a bra should fit the body, a trained fitter can not only ensure that someone is wearing the right size, but also the right shape for them. They can pass things in that the customer may not have considered from the rack, but which fit them perfectly and look gorgeous.
In my shop, it isn’t just bras either. With corsets I explain how they are done up for example, both if doing it yourself or if someone is helping you.
Engaging With Customers
I like to chat – who doesn’t? And by engaging my customers in conversation I not only find out about them, but also more about the sorts of clothes that they wear and therefore the sort of underwear that would be most suitable for them.
When suggesting an item for a customer after listening to them, that is more often or not what they choose to purchase – because it suits their needs. Likewise I will often ask how they got on with a certain piece if I’ve heard they have bought it for a specific reason.
In my shop – like in many small boutiques that don’t have a lot of floor space – the majority of bras are not actually on show. Not because I don’t want anyone to see them, or because I’m worried about shoplifting, but because part of the service I provide is not only to sell my customers a bra, but to help select the right bra for them.
Plus, by keeping bras in their packets, in drawers, they are kept clean and in pristine condition. It goes back to the old fashioned shopping experience of telling the shopkeeper what you want and them getting it for you.
A Personalised Experience
Many lingerie boutiques use a computer system to keep track of not only stock but also sales. Personally, I ask for customer names and can check back against previous purchases etc. should I need to.
But likewise, customers love being remembered and having their name used. It makes them feel valued, even if they haven’t been in store for some time.
Small boutiques can’t always stock everything they would like to, but as I’ve said in my blog about choosing suppliers, I like to be able to offer a service where I can get different sizes/colours or even ranges in for my customers.
You don’t necessarily need to go to a department store to have a lot of choice – some small boutiques can sometimes offer big shop choices with small shop service!
Now this is something that, if you have the time and patience, you can find online. There are, as Estelle found out, over 120 lingerie bloggers out there plus various shops offering advice and reviews, which is all very helpful.
However, it can’t compete with the knowledge of an experienced member of staff advising you, in person, on your particular shape and size. Someone providing simple solutions to problems that have been bugging you, like straps that dig in or slide off of your shoulders.
Okay, so this section probably just sums up the previous ones, but knowledge is a big reason to come and visit a lingerie shop.
Knowledge of the anatomy and how a bra should fit you. Knowledge of what styles, colours, brands etc. are available. Knowledge on little things that make life easier and more comfortable. Knowledge on caring for your smalls. Knowledge of you, the customer.
The list that I’ve given above is something that I believe you get with most independent lingerie shops. Department stores cover many of them, but are unable to provide such a personalised service.
Customer service should provide you with an unrivaled bra shopping experience, that costs no more than the items you’re purchasing (along with a cup of tea). Good customer service normally stays with you, you remember it, and are more likely to return.
Have you received any examples of good customer service when lingerie shopping?
Kirsty, owner of Curvature Boutique.
Related post: Lingerie Shopping Online Vs. In a Boutique