Creating Compelling Client Experiences

Marianne Scaffidi
Director of Learning and Development
CGB at Swarovski North America

The name “Swarovski” is synonymous with luxury. For many years, we were known as a manufacturer of fine crystal pieces perfect for collectors and gift-giving. We then expanded into the world of fashion with collections in both jewelry and accessories. Recently, our senior leadership team decided to aggressively expand the fashion segment while continuing to nurture our core crystal collectible business. Our goal was to “elevate” or transform in-store retail operations into a premium luxury experience both for our consumers and sales consultants. We were convinced this was the ideal path to follow that would result in improved consumer loyalty along with double-digit comparable store sales increases.

We recognized that in undertaking this transformation, nearly every aspect of our business would need to change, from the product and selling language used in stores to back office operations, to how we interacted among ourselves. Our objective was simple: to grow our business by creating a unique and compelling client experience.

Getting Crystal Clear

Before starting on this journey, we needed clarity on the strategy. This included developing standards for consultants on the selling experience (“Five Moments of Truth”) along with coaching standards for store managers and field leadership teams. Swarovski partnered with Root Learning to create several Learning Map® modules on the vision, strategy, client experience, and coaching model, designed to inspire while bringing this transformation to life.

We also invested in technology with development of eLearning designed to read as a fashion magazine to amplify our brand and further engage our staff. Detailed product knowledge, delivered in an engaging and on-brand manner, is elevating our consultants’ confidence in selling and their pride in the brand. Our Swarovski Style Magazine begins with our rich 115-year history, which plays a vital role in linking our consultants to our company’s heritage and consumer’s in-store experience. Swarovski represents innovation, style, and success. The “magic of crystal” and “poetry of precision” are embedded with every one of our 21,000 employees worldwide.

Another important point was educating employees – now referred to as “consultants”– on “wrapping” the selling process into an all-encompassing activity that made consumers – now “clients” – feel that they are being treated to a luxurious experience. Consultants accomplish this through creative storytelling, romancing the product through their choice of brand language, and the use of engaging body language.

Creating the Focus

The vision, strategy, and skill training was first introduced to all managers at Swarovski’s annual meetings. Subsequent annual meetings have kept the vision and strategy in the forefront through workshops that consistently reinforce our strategy, tactics, and progress.

This transformation has taken place not only between our consultants and clients, but also with our field leaders who coach district managers, store managers, and their sales teams. This was critical, as our sales teams ultimately create the brand experience in stores. Field leadership set high expectations, inspire teams about what’s possible, and hold them accountable for results and the overall representation of the brand.

In the past, district managers focused on operations during store visits, ”checking off” things like visual merchandising, inventory position, expense spends, and a seemingly endless list of other tasks. This checklist mentality has been replaced by a true engagement experience where our leaders model the behavior that consultants should emulate with a focus on the total client experience. With this approach, managers and consultants are treated to the same Swarovski culture of luxury internally as we expect them to deliver with their clients.

All education and skill development is focused on behaviors that will enhance every experience. Basics retail KPIs such as conversion rate, units per transaction, and average dollar sale aren’t forgotten, but rather are woven into conversations with storytelling and “romancing the product” to create a compelling brand experience that drives business results. The focus is always on creating customers for life who will return based on the experience they had, not simply on the product they purchased.

Making Loyalty Easy

The way we see it, our clients are not entering a store – they’re entering the world of Swarovski. It’s not about selling a product – it’s about being a dream maker, inspiring potential, and creating experiences that will be remembered for years to come. It’s not a necklace – it’s a luxurious pendant that represents the end of the cold winter and the promise of spring. It’s not a crystal collectible – it’s a Surgeonfish, full of the dynamic colors of nature, designed by a world-renowned artist.

As a result of this new focus, we’ve seen a higher level of confidence in our consultants as they transfer
the new skills into behaviors with clients. Also, eLearning greatly increased our consultants’ comfort with technology, as many Swarovski consultants had not been as computer-savvy as their retail counterparts in other companies.

We are transforming our brand – from our frontline consultants to our senior-level management teams – into a client engagement-focused organization that concentrates on inspirational experiences and storytelling to communicate our brand message every day. By indulging both our staff and clients in an experiential environment of luxury with shared messages and common meanings, we are creating loyal customers and retaining employees who are the true brand ambassadors of Swarovski.