One in Three Consumers Consider Highly Trained Employees the Most Important Factor When Making a Luxury Purchase

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The Empathica Consumer Insights Panel also found that the vast majority of consumers say they will walk out of a store if they receive inadequate assistance from employees.

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Empathica Inc., a leading provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions to some of the world’s most respected brands, announced today that its Consumer Insights Panel survey of 5,000 U.S. and Canadian consumers found that nearly a third of consumers consider highly knowledgeable and well-trained employees as the most important element of their luxury purchase experience.

Survey results also showed that consumers are very willing to walk out of a luxury retail store if they are not receiving the one-on-one attention they need. In fact, three out of four consumers said they buy either nothing – or less than what they would normally purchase – if there are not enough employees in the store to assist them.

Despite the importance of individual attention at luxury retailer stores, many consumers think today’s brands aren’t delivering. Only 38% of consumers said they receive better customer service in luxury retail than in non-luxury retail. On the other hand, if employees are eager to serve customers, a full 80% of survey respondents said it would have a positive impact on their perception of the brand and affect their future business with the store.

“Retailers can no longer view the customer experience as a series of brief, disconnected interactions, especially those in luxury retail,” said Emmanuel Probst, VP of Retail at Empathica. “The customer experience is a journey, where opinions are formed and decisions are made that ultimately lead to whether or not the customer will buy a particular product from a particular retailer. If employees are poorly trained and lack essential knowledge on the products, customers have no problem walking out of the store empty-handed.”

Top Luxury Service Elements that Consumers Value, From Most Important to Least Important

1. Highly knowledgeable and well-trained employees
2. One-on-one customer service
3. Brand exclusivity
4. Welcoming store atmosphere
5. Many employees available to serve them

If luxury retailers don’t focus on employee training and delivering one-on-one service, the penalty can potentially be very high to the brand, according to Andi Needham, Retail Practice Lead at Axsium Group, a workforce management consulting practice.

“Up until now, managers have had a difficult time really articulating a direct link between the brand experience and how staff need to serve customers to meet their expectations,” said Needham. “A link exists, however, and retailers are absolutely seeking guidance for how to positively change employee behaviors and achieve more consistency in their service execution. Empathica survey results showed that luxury retail employees are generally doing a good job when they are fully engaged with customers, but it’s not happening enough. And it’s not happening consistently. The lack of available and empowered associates is still an issue.”

For more information on the results of this study, visit http://www.empathica.com/insights.

About the Empathica Consumer Insights Panel:

The Empathica Consumer Insights serves as an authoritative voice on consumer based economic indicators; the retail, financial services and restaurant industries; consumer shopping intentions and customer satisfaction as reported by thousands of consumers in the U.S. and Canada. Results from Empathica’s Consumer Insights, led by Dr. Gary Edwards and Empathica’s Consumer Insights’ team, are published several times a year. The results are based on outbound Internet surveys with Empathica’s growing Insights Panel, derived from more than 30 million consumer surveys per year. Results have been weighted to reflect latest Census distributions in the U.S. and in Canada, including Region, Gender, Age and Income.

Aforementioned data is reported by the Empathica Consumer Insights Panel – Wave 2 2011, Issue 2.

About Empathica:

Empathica provides Customer Experience Management programs to more than 200 of the world's leading brands, ranging from multi-unit retailers, to banks and restaurants. Its rich analysis of survey data using state-of-the-art surveying and dashboard reporting software allows for performance-improvement solutions, evidence-based marketing insights, and customer experience management consulting. Annually, Empathica's 30 million customer surveys in 25 languages reach more than 70,000 locations. A privately-held organization, Empathica is headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, has an office in Birmingham, England, and U.S. executive consultants in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Bozeman, Mont. For more information about deriving actionable insights that enhance a brand's operational excellence, visit Empathica at http://www.empathica.com.

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Lauren Eichmann
Walker Sands Communications
312-265-3089
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Bruce Warren
Empathica
905-542-9001 242
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