Now-common industry practices such as sampling have roots at Kiehl’s Since 1851
Pune, January 05, 2019: 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.
Did you know?
• In 1633, the first public brewery in America was established by Peter Minuit at the Market (“Marckvelt”) field in Lower Manhattan.
• The New York Post, established in 1803 by Alexander Hamilton, is the oldest running newspaper in the United States.
• In 1894, the first motion picture was shown by Thomas Edison on Broadway.
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.
KIEHL’S HAS BEEN SAMPLING SINCE ITS DAYS AS AN OLD-WORLD PHARMACY: “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
Irving Morse, a founding family member of the Kiehl’s Apothecary during the early 1900s, valued the personal relationships he had with his customers and encouraged them to experiment with his hand-made remedies before choosing those best-suited for their needs. Kiehl’s “Try before you buy” policy became the pharmacy’s motto – and this principle of personalized customer service plus customized sampling, established by Morse, has remained a Kiehl’s tradition ever since. Kiehl’s sampling practice has not only inspired similar programs in today’s beauty industry but has inspired the creation of modern sampling “beauty box” companies.
“At Kiehl’s, we focus on the quality of our ingredients and the efficacy of our formulations. We are so confident in our formulas that we want you to ‘Try Before You Buy’,” shares Cheryl Vitali, Worldwide General Manager of Kiehl’s Since 1851. “In 2015, we provided over 106 million samples to customers. We are certain that we have the formula to solve each customer’s unique skin care needs and our customers appreciate that there is no risk. They can try the product and ensure it is right for them before making a purchase.”
KIEHL’S WANTS YOU TO BE 100% SATISFIED: There are no conventional salespeople 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 salespeople. These individuals are Kiehl’s Customer Service Representatives (affectionately referred to as KCRs) – and the only similarity to a traditional salesperson 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.
“When we are educating our KCR’s, one of the first things we teach them is the Kiehl’s approach to service, for which our motto is, ‘We’d always rather make a friend than push a sale’. Those were our founding family’s exact words to every employee – and we maintain that philosophy today” states Cammie Cannella, Vice President of Global Education and Customer Experience. “Our KCRs tell us that they love coming to work because, instead of selling, they get to be educators and problem solvers.”
THE KIEHL’S WAY: A PROMISE TO EVERY CUSTOMER IN EVERY KIEHL’S STORE, ALL OVER THE WORLD: The fundamentals and traditions of service that Kiehl’s pioneered more than 90 years ago are as follows:
Listen to your customers. The introduction of new products and new store locations is based primarily on customer suggestions and requests.
Personalize consultations. Whenever a customer visits a Kiehl’s store or counters anywhere in the world, they can always expect to receive a personalized consultation complete with appropriate product and sample recommendations.
“Try Before You Buy” sampling philosophy. Kiehl’s believes that by getting formulas into customer’s hands, they will appreciate the fine quality, and at the very least they will leave having had a unique and memorable experience.
Simple, informative packaging. Kiehl’s has always believed that the package doesn’t make you beautiful; it’s only the quality of ingredients that can truly help your skin and hair. Therefore, Kiehl’s has always been dedicated to sourcing the highest quality ingredients coupled with the latest scientific advancements.
GIVE KIEHL’S 5 MINUTES TO CHANGE YOUR SKIN: Kiehl’s was founded as an old-world apothecary in New York’s East Village neighborhood. Its unique, extensive background represents a blend of cosmetic, pharmaceutical, herbal, and medicinal knowledge developed and advanced through the generations.
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