Nobody does customer service like the Americans. So it was fantastic when our Clienteling tool helped Cole Haan win one of eight Store Operations Superstar Awards from Retail Touchpoints.

Nobody does customer service like the Americans. So it was fantastic when our Clienteling tool helped Cole Haan win one of eight Store Operations Superstar Awards from Retail Touchpoints.

The winning line-up included household names like Macy’s and American Apparel, so it was a great result to pick up the Silver Award in Customer Engagement.

The Cole Haan Clienteling story began about 18 months ago when the company’s head of CRM was guest speaker at our annual client conference. As a customer of our North American partner Epicor, Cole Haan presented best practice use of its CRM system. The retailer was actively seeking a Clienteling solution at the time and, during the two-day event, our sleek Clienteling tool caught the eye.

Clienteling is all about building closer relationships with customers to generate incremental margin on your bottom line. It puts the sales associate in control of customer relationships and arms them with all the information they need to provide an unrivalled personal service.

This helps create a culture of repeatable customer excellence by leveraging every customer touchpoint and connecting the entire retail operation with a goal of knowing, engaging with, and serving the customer better.

Everyone gets the VIP service

Our Clienteling tool is compatible with any mobile device – and Cole Haan opted to use it on in-store iPads. As a luxury brand, the in-store experience plays a massive part in establishing and retaining customer loyalty.


Sitting on top of the company’s CRM solution, the Clienteling tool completes the circle and puts all customer data at the fingertips of the sales associates. This in turn is turning the traditional role of associate on its head – so rather than wait for a customer to come in, the tool is helping them proactively draw in customers.

Part of this proactive aspect is set up in the system itself. Cole Haan is aiming for “a customer-centric strategy that will enable the business to build lifetime value with our most profitable clients”.

So sales associates receive regular updates and tasks on a “30-60-90-120” day basis, depending on when a customer last visited. They can see who their most profitable and valuable customers are and engage with them in a way that’s tailored to the customer.

By digitising its traditional “black books” and integrating this information with its CRM system, Cole Haan is getting a single customer view. It sets parameters and tasks but is not overly prescriptive – the sales associate can still choose to contact customers and track this activity in the system.

It’s early days yet, but already the results are compelling. Cody Perret, Sales Associate 5th Avenue Store, Cole Haan said: “This is the tool that will make our good sales associates amazing and our great sales associates INCREDIBLE. The iPad also keeps us ON THE FLOOR.  Instead of disappearing behind a register where the client assumes they have been forgotten about, we stay in sight and they know we are assisting them.” Other benefits include:

  • former ‘black book’ clients that typically purchased twice a year are already purchasing three times since implementation
  • team members can utilise the iPad for expediting regular, ongoing and seasonal tasks, such as floor mapping and changing out product lines
  • paper-based seasonal floor plans are no longer sent to each store, but instead plans are communicated electronically – saving significantly on print and postal costs
  • store managers and associates don’t have to leave the sales floor to print directives or perform outreach – product knowledge is always a ‘swipe away’
  • an overall increase in productivity.

Clienteling is important in North America and we’re seeing some frontrunners in the UK, Asia and Europe take it up as we’re rolling out the tool with half a dozen UK customers over the next few months. It’s another idea from over here that’s doing rather well over there.