For the tenth year in a row, I attended to the National Retail Federation (NRF) event, the world’s largest conference in retail and technology, which takes place in New York at temperatures of -8 degrees Celsius. The climate contrasts the warmth of information and opportunities generated in the event. This year, again, the “customer service” was approached as a great competitive differential not only for retail, but for all companies that begin to organize countless generated data from interactions with their customers.

This data, if well worked, increases sales and customer loyalty. The speakers joked using the terms “old world” and “new world”. In the old world the seller would serve the customer without any kind of prior information, and the approach would depend solely and exclusively on the mood of the seller.

In the new world the seller has all necessary information about the customer, their habits and shopping preferences, and advice on how to meet their needs and what to offer.

Now we can see that the service has not only evolved, it has become a great business opportunity.

Calls, which were once seen as a headache, became essential. Using them, companies get crucial information about their consumer and its preferences. We see business platforms, such as Ellevo, bringing opportunities into the business not only to register or control information, but also how to manage them. More and more complete records coming from different sectors and not only from the CSH give the seller resources to better understand his audience and create a permanent and reliable relationship.

The final result is impressive. I had the opportunity to experience both worlds right there at the NRF event.

As soon as I arrived at the hotel to check in I received a letter from the management staff thanking me for staying with them for another year and warning me that they had taken the liberty of refrigerating my favorite wine, and I could call room service to order it. I was flattered.

The hotel actually turned a bad experience into a great selling opportunity. In the last two years that I stayed in the hotel I ordered the wine, which was on the menu, and I heard from the waiter that “unfortunately this wine is not available”. I heard this the first night and I let it go, when I heard it the second night I decided to send a complaint to the hotel. Then I heard it again in the second year, when I went back there and made a mocking complaint. In the third year I was positively surprised.

This is a clear example when a call, a complaint record from your customer, becomes a business opportunity. However, it will only be possible for your company to reverse a situation and end a stressful conflict when you have sufficient data in your hand. Technology is inevitably the best way to move forward.

On my trips to the fair, I also had a very negative experience with a very renowned fashion store. In the first year I bought a pair of very expensive shoes on Fifth Avenue in New York. At the end of the year I received a handwritten letter, in my house in São Paulo, with a message of Happy Holidays signed by the seller who helped me in the store. In January I received another handwritten letter wishing Happy Birthday. I was flattered.

The next year I went back to the store determined to buy another pair of shoes. The salesman wasn’t there, and I was helped by someone else. The service was terrible. The store had no record of what I had bought. The saleswoman did not have any data system to check the inventory and spent hours looking for the products. In the end, I discovered that the letters had been sent on the initiative of the seller, who controlled everything in his booklet, not the store. So I found out that I was the seller’s customer, not the store’s.

Obviously we need to give credit to the professional, who turned out to be excellent when he served me. But this experience is also a very important reminder about knowledge management. Without the records being properly stored on a business platform, my information as a customer has been lost. The lack of proper technology caused the store to lose one customer – or several.

What’s the big difference between both?

The hotel is in the “new world”. They invested in technology, recording everything that was happening to the customer, analyzing information and giving instructions to employees create excellent experiences for the customers, turning negative facts into positive ones. The store is in the “old world”, selling as it was done in the past. The store has not invested in technology and is dependent on the goodwill of its sellers.

I came back to Brazil and I began to observe the companies which are in the old world and those which have moved towards the new world. How long will companies in the old world survive?


What about you?  What side is your company on?