January 2019, India – In our modern society, there are many experiences and things we take for granted in our hectic, daily lives that were birthed from the advancement of quiet pioneers in New York City history.Similarly, it is unknown to many consumers that Kiehl’s, the 168-year-old skincare purveyor, holds a unique position as an early pioneer in customer service — which has not only been studied by Harvard Business School, but also has inspired the service models seen in some of today’s Fortune 500 companies. In today’s consumer culture, when purchasing skincare products, 76.8% of female consumers wish they had access to more expert advice and more samples. Kiehl’s has been quietly answering that wish for over 90 years.
“Customers made pilgrimages from around the world to the original Kiehl’s [flagship] location in New York’s East Village, where samples were handed out liberally to any customer.” Harvard Business Review, 2005.
There are no conventional sales people at Kiehl’s. Visit any Kiehl’s store in the world and you’ll find interesting, educated, friendly people in white lab coats ready to help you. But don’t call them sales people. These individuals are Kiehl’s Customer Service Representatives (affectionately referred to as KCRs) – and the only similarity to a traditional sales person is their ability to process a transaction upon checkout.
At Kiehl’s, KCRs are rewarded not through traditional commission-based selling, but through a team rewards system that encourages each person to spend the necessary time with each customer. Instead of trying to make a sale, KCRs offer appropriate samples so that customers can try the products before they buy them. Allowing KCRs this “no pressure” period of time to work with customers ensures the appropriate products are selected. The customer ultimately feels more confident in the service and advice they have received as well as in the products themselves.