Even a global pandemic can’t stop love or the other sentiments that prompt us to buy a beautiful piece of jewelry. But it can throw a big wrench in a company’s plans. Signet Jewelers, the largest diamond jewelry retailer, was two years into a journey to become a customer-first organization that meets people’s preferences for digital shopping experiences—and then that strategy was put to the test. In 2020, as the world locked down, Signet—owner of brands including KAY Jewelers, Zales, Jared and JamesAllen.com—had to temporarily close more than 3,000 stores, essentially overnight. How would Signet sell intricate (and often big-ticket) jewelry if people couldn’t see their color, shape, and shine, or feel their weight?
Without physical store locations, the company relied on the expertise and creativity of its jewelry consultants to engage virtually with customers. They would communicate with customers from their homes with a variety of digital collaboration tools, often on company iPads.
But Signet could do more than simply maintain profitability through digital sales. The company could proactively launch strategic capabilities to address customers’ evolving needs, and it recognized that new behaviors and preferences developed in response to COVID-19 would remain and set the stage for ongoing changes. For example, maybe an ideal virtual experience would not just make up for the loss of a tactile and in-person interaction at a store; it could complement and exceed it.
With the year-end holiday season—Signet’s busiest quarter—around the corner, the company set a deadline to pivot from being reactive to proactive and strategic. The product teams knew they needed to prioritize key features of the customer experience quickly, such as care center and service calls. Investing in understanding Signet customers in a more profound way would make it possible to deliver experiences that would speak to them—and drive sales.
WHEN TECH MEETS HUMAN INGENUITY
Mapping brilliant customer service
Signet wanted to extend that same feeling of personal care and in-store intimacy into people’s homes. To start, the company would adopt a customer experience-led operating model that expanded the notion of “product.” Instead of viewing it as an item that’s sold, Signet saw the end-to-end experience a customer has with the company as the product. With that in mind, product teams became responsible for designing, building and launching new experiences that span the Connected Commerce ecosystem, including virtual sales assistance messaging, booking appointments, tracking orders and intelligent routing for selling and service inquiries.
Buying jewelry is often emotional—it’s a touching act of commitment to a special person or the joyous marking of a key life event. But it turns out that jewelry shoppers aren’t just following their hearts. The team discovered through qualitative and quantitative customer data and research that shoppers interested in jewelry seek one common thing: a high level of expertise and confidence. So whether customers were in a virtual consultation, a “go-in-store” virtual appointment or messaging with a consultant, Signet wanted to give them the best information, from a source they could trust.
That’s why they mapped out ideal customer journeys, which push past traditional exploration and purchase to address a customer’s emotional needs, including the desire to celebrate oneself, “falling back in love” gifts, the “big reveal” of engagements and more. A suite of technology and resources that deliver in-store intimacy and help create a more personal, less transactional experience power the new customer experience-led operating model. Following the journey maps, the team implemented a new messaging platform and detailed order-tracking to give customers more visibility and control over what they buy. So, from the moment of purchase, through shipping, delivery and returns, they can rest assured that what they buy will be sent with love and care.
A VALUABLE DIFFERENCE
Cut, color, clarity, confidence
By offering customers intimate virtual interactions with stunning products, Signet recreated (and even enhanced) the personal service that shoppers feel in stores. Although the pandemic severely disrupted retail, Signet quickly rallied to make the most of the ingenuity of its people and minimized the impact on its workforce.
And Signet is invested in equipping its people with the tools they need to creatively serve and build relationships with customers in more immediate and personalized ways, bringing to life the intimacy of the jewelry-buying experience whenever, wherever, and how customers choose to shop with them. This work has contributed to strong growth. Signet saw sales grow nearly 50% in fiscal 2022 compared to the year prior, including a 27% increase in online sales.
Now, with an ongoing service design and experience strategy, customer experience mindset, and product and technical support, Signet is working with Accenture to explore how to apply data, intelligence and the cloud to power more-curated customer and employee experiences. With its Connected Commerce operating model and a data-driven approach, Signet’s teams work iteratively to rapidly design, develop and launch bespoke digital experiences. This major shift in the focus and culture of Signet’s workforce powers the business to quickly adapt to consumers’ changing needs and expectations.
As Signet increasingly tests how digital can truly transform the business, Accenture supports their team as advocates for accelerating initiatives at scale. Equipped with new digital resources and a customer experience-led operating model, Signet’s people are finding new ways to collaborate and innovate. The result? Customers who experience more “wow” factors that inspire life-long relationships with Signet.
To thrive in an uncertain future, retailers must reset and reinvent responsibly to drive profitable growth.