Estée Lauder Strengthens Customer Experience Across Brands
In February 2015 the UK arm of global luxury cosmetics giant, Estée Lauder, began work on strengthening the customer experience across its brands. Partnering with Smith+Co, leading brands such as Clinique and Jo Malone set out to enhance what was an already strong retail experience and enviable reputation with customers. Estée Lauder needed to enhance the customer experience across its 29 brands because, although customers were entering or browsing in their stores, they were not converting enough visits into sales and thus not into repeat business.
What we did
Smith+Co started by listening to the most valuable customers for each of the brands and then conducting a wider CEM+ survey. The insight that came from the Smith+Co research was that, quite simply, customers were often a little overawed by the highly skilled Estee Lauder ‘artists’ (the sales representatives in stores who advise customers on what cosmetic, hair, or beauty products would suit them best) to feel confident that they could apply the products successfully at home. Smith+Co devised a complete ‘High-Touch’ Branded Customer Experience process that could be applied to each of its 29 brands. It was successfully piloted in Clinique, MAC, La Mer, Smash Box and Jo Malone and then the internal team was trained to roll the process out across the other brands.
Very early on in the project, the Smith+Co team realized how important the contact center was in the wider customer experience because the center provided sales and customer support across all the Estée Lauder brands. As a result, the leadership team took the decision to include the contact center in the new CX program and not view it simply as a remote platform that handled queries and problems. The first step for Smith+Co was to assess where the contact center sat on the spectrum from efficient cost-center to purposeful experience center. We found that the Estée Lauder contact centers were set up to offer generalized customer support rather than a brand-specific ‘High-Touch’ experience focused on the very different needs of say, MAC customers who are interested in the very latest make-up ideas to Clinique customers who are much more concerned with skincare advice.
The aim of the initiative was to bring the Estée Lauder ‘High Touch’ customer experience alive for customers by aligning the behavior of all employees. Bespoke training modules were designed for the retail staff and contact center agents with input from the employees themselves. In addition to ensuring high-quality learning materials, employees began to take ownership of the customer experience. By understanding the Estée Lauder brand promise and desired ‘High-Touch’ experience.
Artists and agents from the contact center were trained by Smith+Co as facilitators to deliver these modules. The modules were largely designed to bring the customer experience alive for employees so that, they in turn, could bring it alive for customers. The way in which the program was delivered was designed to make employees feel special because that is the way you start to make the customers feel special.
The new learning program didn’t just cover skills and behaviors (such as listening, mirroring, and so on) but also ensured that employees understood why Estée Lauder is focusing on customer experience, what the customer’s journey is, and how their loyalty is affected by the experience they have. This focus on the brand purpose and promise helped teams see why there was a need to do something differently or better across the operation.
Results of the CX investment:
It extended the experience that the consumer gets in-store to create a seamless experience of the contact center.
- Agent NPS increased by 32 points
- Consumer NPS grew by 30 points.
- Complaints fell by 50%.
- Unsolicited compliments increased by over 300%.
"I'm honestly blown away by your email. I never knew a company could be so amazing in their customer service. It's like buying cosmetics from a close friend".
“Smith & Co helped us re-assess the service we were offering our customers and identify opportunities for improving customer satisfaction, by moving from a service-based model to providing an ‘experience’ across each consumer touchpoint.
They helped us develop a process to identify which parts of the consumer journey we should dial-up through a series of benchmarking and research activities; supported in the development of the training cascade and the development of the KPIs to measure the success. Through this process, we have developed a program across all our brands for national roll-out”
Chris Good - President UK and Ireland
The Estee Lauder Companies