John Lewis’s announcement in September that it was changing its name to John Lewis & Partners was a move that sent a clear message: its biggest asset is its partners, who are central to its brand. At a time when department stores need to offer a customer experience that goes above and beyond what has been offered before, focusing on the personal touch is the way the brand plans to differentiate itself from the competition and to win customer loyalty.
The company aims to provide a highly personal, experiential retail service. To do this, it is investing between £400m and £500m a year in customer service, backed up with new technology, as well as own-brand products and services. Partners’ roles are changing to focus on providing individual services direct to the customer, such as concierge-type services, healthy eating advice and personal stylists delivering daily fashion talks.
The move follows the company’s already established focus on Brand Engagement across its digital platforms, demonstrating how it is using technology to go that extra mile. This can be seen in the ‘inspiration’ pages on its website, where blog-type stories explore brands on sale in store, give styling advice both for fashion and the home, and offer useful tips on a host of subjects, from how to choose perfume to how to hang pictures on the wall. It is clearly keen to share its values with its customers through an easy to find ‘Community Matters’ page on its website, which provides information on the charities it supports, the John Lewis Foundation and its sofa recycling service. Its ethical and corporate responsibility policies are also flagged up, with statements on modern slavery, responsible sourcing and human rights, as well as a list of the factories that it uses.
The John Lewis & Partners app allows customers to set up wishlists, share the products they love on social media and check out with touch ID or face ID. In store, the app can also be used to scan barcodes for product information and check stock availability. Shaking the phone displays the customer’s My John Lewis card, while the app also acts as a ‘kitchen drawer’ for electronic receipts, guarantees and reward vouchers.
Across social media too, engagement is the aim. It has 1,326,854 followers on Facebook, which is actively used by customers for sharing feedback, complaints and experiences of products and services. Responses from the company to comments are frequent, swift and, importantly, personal – promising to follow up with the relevant department where necessary and always providing the responding partner’s name.