The most important thing in retail is sales. Or is it? If sales are insufficient, a company goes out of business. So yes, sales are very important, even critical to a company’s success. But too much focus on sales, or having a sales focus that is ineffective, will not accomplish the desired results. And what are the desired result of sales, other than the obvious, to keep the company financially healthy and in business by selling enough product?
Regardless of the product, the main desired result of sales is loyal fans. And I am a loyal fan of Fatou Barry, my Sisley expert at Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC. It is probably more because of Fatou than any other factor that I am loyal to the Sisley brand. (The lovely lady in the photo above is Fatou.)
I discovered the Sisley skin care and makeup brand at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona years ago, and have been a loyal fan of the brand since. Prior to using Sisley products, I was a Clinique and Lancôme customer. Now, did you catch the word switch? I have been a loyal fan of Sisley, whereas I was a customer of Clinique and Lancôme. There is a major difference in this distinction.
Sisley is an excellent brand. It is not uncommon for someone I do not know to comment on my skin, and ask what skin care and makeup products I use. Now, I am always surprised by this, since I pay very little attention to my skin care regime and use very little makeup. I have finally come to the realization that the Sisley brand gets the credit, not me. The products are superior. They are also expensive. And there are some Sisley products I do not use, for I will not pay what some of them cost. There is a limit, like the price limit I have on shoes. I am, however, loyal to the Sisley brand. But as much as I love the Sisley brand, it is Fatou’s service that has kept me loyal to Sisley for at least the past seven years.
I was in NYC last week and went into Saks, but not for skin care products or makeup. I had planned to not even stop by the Sisley counter since I did not need anything, and I was in a hurry. But Fatou saw me from across the store, and called me over. I went over to speak, and told her that I did not need anything. She quickly said, “I know you don’t need anything, you just bought what you needed recently, but I have something for you.” She then quickly pulled together a lovely bag and box of wonderful samples for me. Fatou often gives me samples when I make a purchase. And the samples she gave me made me feel like a very valued customer. And not just that she gave them to me, but the way she did so, calling me over and not even trying to make a sale. This experience reinforced one of my core beliefs about customer service. The magic of customer service is service before sales.
In most cases, if we serve the customer well, the sales will follow. Serving the customer well is what Fatou knows all about. The reason I didn’t need any product when I went into Saks in NYC last week is because Fatou keeps up with my purchases and what I need. A few weeks ago, she called me at just the right time, and I ordered several items that I “needed,” but likely would not have ordered had she not called! This is a great example of not just service and sales, but service before sales. Fatou has a system to know what I order, when it needs to be reordered, and connects with me to make it easy for me to place the order. And remember, she is in NYC and I am in NC!
Although there is a Saks in my home city, and I do shop there, I do not have a product representative, Sisley or otherwise, that pays attention to me, calls me when it is time for me to reorder, or in any way makes me feel special. Fatou does. Service before sales. Fatou will get my business every time.