How do you become the most customer-friendly company in the Netherlands? Ask Rituals

Rituals was elected in May 2021 as the Most Customer-Friendly Company in the Netherlands. Striking, when you consider that the retailer had to close its stores for more than 4 months in the corona year. Rituals was able to continue to fascinate and bind customers even in these special circumstances. What makes Rituals special in terms of customer friendliness? What do they do well, what do they do differently?

Founder and CEO Raymond Cloosterman and Country Director Benelux Lizette Lulofs talk in 8 topics about their customer-friendliness choices and about the experiences in a special year.

“Do we do things differently from other retailers? We don’t actually look so much at colleagues in our sector as an example for customer-friendliness”, says Lizette Lulofs. “We are more likely to be inspired by the hospitality sector. There it is core business to spoil and surprise guests. Of course it is with us too.”

Now it is manageable at a hotel or restaurant to treat all guests well and personally. How do you do that at an organization like Rituals with about 7,000 employees, more than 800 stores, almost 2,700 shop-in-shops and numerous other activities and points of sale?

Invest in your employees

Lizette Lulofs: “We invest a lot in educating and training our employees. You will continue to learn and develop throughout your working life at Rituals. Not only in terms of products, processes, commerce and skills, but also in engagement, storytelling and customer focus.”

Go for sincere involvement

The employees are the carriers of the Rituals culture, says founder and CEO Raymond Cloosterman. “The employees make the difference. The customer immediately notices whether an employee is really involved or whether it is a trick. You partly achieve this genuine involvement through training, but it is also part of the hiring policy. You soon realize whether an applicant has it in them. Another part is in the example you give yourself as a manager and team leader.”

“A year or two ago we also decided to bring in our customer service and broadened our horizons to Customer Relations. That includes social media engagement, social commerce and CRM. In our ‘voice of the customer’ platform we share customer feedback directly with our board members so that we can also actively and quickly realize improvements in our processes. They should also get the feeling that customers have in our store when they interact with us online or by phone. So now we have a few hundred employees who are shaping customer service in a Rituals way, with flair and personality.”

Look beyond your own shop

Cloosterman: “Our involvement extends further than just our own stores. We have a policy of trying to give back to people around us and around the world. We structurally support three goals. That is War Child, we offer help with equipment, advice and financial support.

“We are also closely involved with Tiny Miracles, as a founding sponsor. Tiny Miracles helps small communities in India in a holistic way to build a good, healthy and happy life.

“We are also the initiator of the Super Chill Foundation. This foundation teaches children to find their peace. That makes such a big difference. For example, when a child relaxes, his or her learning capacity increases enormously. With Super Chill we want to reach a few million children in Europe. That way we give back in a way that is very close to us. We don’t really show off these activities, it will probably have little impact on customer appreciation. But that’s not what we do it for.”

Be flexible

“Normally we are very set up to receive and spoil our customers in the stores,” says Cloosterman. “But if suddenly your shops are forced to close, you have to change things up a bit. With the whole club, we’ve been inventing new ways to stay in touch with our customers like crazy. How can we still provide that distinctive service in the new situation? What new services can we think of and add?”

Think creatively

Rituals was creative and successful in devising and deploying new services. Private shopping arrangements were made with customers fairly quickly. Loyal customers were allowed to shop alone or +1 in the stores – in peace, safety and luxury. In total, no fewer than 150,000 customers were received in this way in a short period of time.

Cloosterman: “We also arranged within a few weeks that we would also supply our customers from the stores. Store employees could accept orders online on their mobile phone, immediately pick the orders, pack them, add a personal message and then get on their bike to deliver the order within an hour.”

“That was greatly appreciated,” says Lulofs. “Customers could hardly believe that they received their order so quickly. The employees also liked it a lot. Firstly, because they could still do something for customers, but it was also good for the mutual atmosphere in the workplace. And it was also a great way to get to know your customers even better. What was ordered during that period, what kind of people are they, what makes them happy? It never hurts to take a good look at who we are all doing it for now.”

Keep communicating

A lot was communicated and shared with the employees in those first uncertain times and afterwards. That was also important, says Lulofs: “We communicated a lot and often, with all teams, in all countries. Through videos, social posts and other channels. We stayed in constant contact and shared highs and lows with each other. Raymond checked in with everyone weekly via a vlog or short email. Always with a joke, because we like a positive vibe.”

Hold on to that start-up feeling

How do Cloosterman and Lulofs look back on the past year, now that it has become more or less business as usual for shops? Lulofs: “Sometimes I think it’s a shame that it’s over. It felt good in speed, entrepreneurship, daring, doing. Again a bit of the start-up idea, while we are now a large organization. But it is very nice to see that, despite that size, we have certainly not become unwieldy and rigid.”

The special year has also produced a few lasting memories. Lulofs: “Customers are already starting to ask whether we will be organizing private shopping evenings again in the near future. We also want to maintain a certain form of personal delivery, by bike from the store.”

keep moving

Cloosterman: “The role of the store is changing. That was already changing, but that has accelerated due to corona. The store becomes more of a showcase for the range we have. In the store you can see the products that you can order online. We will therefore process those orders more often from the store and deliver them directly to our customers.”

According to Cloosterman, the most important lesson is that you have to keep moving: “If you want to make a difference for your customers, you can’t wait and see what comes your way. Be flexible, creative, act with speed, involve your employees in the changes and decisions. But above all, continue to surprise and spoil your customers, especially in difficult times, personal contact and extra attention can make the difference.”

7 rules of customer friendliness

MarketResponse has been monitoring how companies perform in terms of customer friendliness since 2007. Each year, based on this independent consumer market research, it is announced which company has the highest score and is Most Customer-Friendly Company in the Netherlands may call.

In 2021 that will be Rituals, which became sixth in 2020 and seventh in 2019. Partly based on years of consumer research, MarketResponse has drawn up the 7 Golden Rules of Customer Service. Would you like to know more about the 7 Golden Rules of Customer Service and how they are applied in practice? Then download CUSTOMER 2021. It also contains the results of the first 75 most customer-friendly companies in the Netherlands.


Source: Frankwatching by www.frankwatching.com.

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