Clientbook Blog
March 30, 2023

Customer service vs. clienteling: What's the difference?

Every good retailer knows that providing excellent customer service is key to acquiring and retaining loyal customers. However, clienteling is another retail technique that has similar goals in mind. 

So what exactly is the difference between customer service interactions and clienteling? 

In this article, we'll cover the key differences between the two and how a clienteling software tool like Clientbook can help allow you to provide an exceptional customer experience for your shoppers. 

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What is customer service? 

Customer service, in a nutshell, includes all of the assistance and services in retail an associate provides to a shopper while they're in a retail space. 

Customer service examples include things like dealing with customer issues, finding products for a shopper, handling returns, calming angry customers, and other things you'd expect a sales associate to do for a customer while they're shopping at a brick-and-mortar retail store. 

What is clienteling? 

Clienteling is a retail strategy that goes beyond basic customer service efforts and works to build personal relationships with retail customers, both when they're in your physical store and even after they leave. 

Clienteling efforts include things like getting to know a shopper's product preferences, who they shop for, and even important dates in their life like a birthday or anniversary. It also includes following up with a shopper after they've left your store, such as sending a text to a buyer with a personalized product recommendation based on items they've purchased in the past. 

Customer service vs. clienteling 

While customer service and clienteling both aim to enhance the retail customer experience, they're two different approaches.

Let's dive into a few of the main differences between customer service initiatives and clienteling. 

Difference #1: Clienteling is about building long-term relationships 

First off, customer service is about helping the customer while they're in the store, and clienteling is about fostering genuine customer relationships that increase customer lifetime value and customer retention long-term.

When your sales staff engage in customer service efforts, they'll keep customers happy while they're in your store. But when your sales staff engage in clienteling, they earn true customer loyalty that can last a lifetime. 

Difference #2: Clienteling uses real-time client data

Next, clienteling is about collecting and using client data to exceed customer expectations, whereas customer service doesn't rely on any data.  

For example, if a sales associate at a fashion boutique is clienteling, they'll get information about a shopper's personal style, what fabrics they like best, and purchase history. Then with that information, they can create a unique customer profile that they can refer to and use when they want to follow up with them in the future.

Difference #3: Clienteling creates a personalized experience for each client

Finally, clienteling offers more personalized service than a basic customer service strategy. And that's in large part because of access to client data that clienteling makes possible. 

Let's use that same fashion boutique example as above. Because the sales associate took the time to gather the information about that client's preferences and personal style, they can follow up with them with a personalized offer on an item they know they'd like best.

This also comes in handy when that shopper comes into your store again. The next time they visit, your sales associate can easily pull up their customer profile and direct them to similar items they've purchased in the past, or show them new stock that's in line with what they'd like. 

Personalization allows you to provide exceptional customer experiences, does great things for customer satisfaction, and elevates your retail business' brand. 

How Clientbook can help you go beyond customer service 

If you're looking to enhance your retail customer service experience and start clienteling, Clientbook can help. With Clientbook, no matter how new your sales associates are to clienteling, your team will be able to seamlessly integrate clienteling activities into their everyday selling habits. 

Clientbook is a mobile platform that allows your retail staff to collect and store client information, create custom wish lists for each client, and send requests for reviews and customer feedback, and even enter payment options so they can close a sale via text. It's excellent service, simplified. 


While customer service and clienteling are both about providing a positive experience to the shoppers, clienteling goes the extra mile for your shoppers and has a more lasting impact on your retention and conversion rates. 

If you're ready to see how Clientbook can help you build deeper connections with your current customers and elevate your customer strategy, book a demo today.

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