LUXURY IS DEAD! LONG LIVE NEW LUXURY!

73% of brands think they are providing good customer service, but only 36% of punters say that they do. In the age of time-poor customers it’s not gold, diamonds or Jimmy Choo heels but precision of information that is the new luxury. Here are our top 5 luxury rules for retailers to rethink as peak-shopping season is a-coming. Don’t leave it to the logistics guys; it’s time for the senior team to zero in on customer service gaps, which in the UK are typically as big as the Grand Canyon.

Luxury is knowing Luxury is knowing if your online order is arriving during the slot you ordered it for. Alas, Waitrose approaches their delivery timings in an Italian way (relaxed, with 30 minutes on either side of the delivery time as their default). At least they send a text message as a courtesy note to say that they will be late. Appreciated. Sadly, the text does not give you an option to cancel or rebook so it’s a real problem if you have to run to work (like us) and can’t wait for them forever. John Lewis manages to give you an option to change or cancel, so Waitrose should too! 5 out of 10 on our TRP service ranking.

Luxury is being safe On the occasion that we misplace passwords for our daily work tools, like MailChimp or Survey Monkey, it’s bliss when they send the new code via SMS. Firstly, it’s instant, and secondly, it lands on your phone so it’s easy to find. Many other providers of cloud-based services send you – grudgingly – the new password or code via email. We get rather a lot of emails every day, so the chances that we’ll definitely spot the one with the password are not quite 100%. This is a high precision situation and a key relationship point that builds my trust in a brand. SMS also saves time in the call centre, which is where people call if they can’t find the new code in their torrent of emails. Forget email for code and password replacements – it’s not diamonds, but SMS texts that are a girl’s best friend.

Luxury is stock management – Maplin take note Luxury is not missing my son’s football party for no reason. I had a bad experience last week when I had to drag myself off my boy’s football pitch on Saturday to make a trip to Maplin St. Paul’s to buy an emergency Raspberry Pi box (long story). Luckily, it said IN STOCK on their new funky website. Arriving on site, I am greeted with a big OUT OF STOCK sign and a slightly amused member of staff, saying that the ‘website is usually out of date’ and how could I be so naïve to actually believe the information on it. Oh dear, they’re still doing a weekly stock update at Maplin HQ! Why offer stock-check service for in-store that’s not real-time? Their last IT director got fired by the new owners only a couple of months ago (probably not unrelated), but the new e-team needs to fix this pronto as the Hybris e-com platform was born to support real-time stock integration. ZERO out of 10.

Luxury is timing PinesAndNeedles.com is our top recommendation for your Xmas tree home delivery as they offer pretty amazing service. Not only will they SMS you precisely when the driver is coming, but you will also get his name, contact number and the copy of the invoice (and the drivers can fix the stand too). No option yet to change the delivery slot in case we haven’t made it home from the pre-Xmas drinks, but I guess that would be pushing it… The brand then gathers feedback by sending a follow-up “How was your delivery?“ text. A huge improvement on last year, when we had to camp in the office till 11pm when the previous supplier showed up with no text, no confirmation of timing and nobody on the phone in their own office. Pines And Needles all the way – 10 out of 10.

Luxury is listening Those who signed up to vote in the Labour leadership and mayoral contests were treated to quite a few texts from every single candidate asking not for support but for an opinion. Throughout the campaign SMS messages were asking for feedback, comments and suggestions and then acting on it. The social media team was managing SMS messages like a cross between Twitter and Facebook, including videos, blog links and quiz invites as part of the text to keep the relationship going. David Lammy managed to squeeze his whole manifesto into an SMS (see photo). Kudos: any brand could learn from this team as an against-all-odds Labour candidate romped home with a landslide 59.7% majority! 10 out of 10.

Lingo tip: SMS is now called Enterprise-2-Person text. Just saying in case you missed it – we did. Providers in the UK include Open Market, mBlox and a number of smaller SMS aggregators and messaging solution providers. Get in touch if you need a hand in figuring out a modern level of e-com service in time for the Xmas peak. Yes Maplin, I’m looking at you.

Also: There’s still time to send us photos of the RFID-enabled mustard tasting at Maille’s Piccadilly Circus store for your year’s supply of the world-class mustard!