October 31st, 2012 by Kelly Liyakasa

Charming Charlie, an American fashion jewelry and accessories retailer that was named International Council of Shopping Centers’ Hot Retailer of the Year in 2010, has hundreds of stores nationwide as well as one passionate clientele ranging from Tweens on up to glammy grandmothers. Charming Charlie stores are known for their whimsy, and fashion-forward mentality, with trend tables splaying the season’s latest conveniently for their customers.

When I caught up with Kim Lewis, the retailer’s director of CRM late this summer, the brand was on the cusp of launching a points-based accrual loyalty program to further enchant and reward its best customers through a premium-status level with VIP discounts; Charming Charlie will also unveil a new ecommerce site this spring after a complete online order experience makeover. Read on for deeper insights into how the company uses CRM and customer-centric tactics to enhance customer relationships, and check out additional insight in the November issue of CRM magazine, Connecting Retail with Etail feature:

What CRM does for Charming Charlie:  “We’re currently using the Epicor Retail CRM product to gain insights about our customers. We are [launching a pilot] of our loyalty program in the fall, and the Epicor Retail CRM tool has allowed us to dig in and understand our different customer segments so  we can design a program to best reward our customers and their loyalty. We’ve recently implemented a new subset of the tool, called Rewards Manager, that is going to be the backbone of our reward program.”

More details on what CRM helps the brand do: “In the last year, we have been using the CRM tool to segment the database and market to customers with specific characteristics. One example is win-back communications for lapsed customers. We are able to quickly identify high-value customers who have not shopped within a specific time-frame, then easily export the lists to our email provider or mail house. Then, once the campaign is in flight, we use the tool to analyze response and know how many customers we were able to successfully reactivate.”

What drove the creation of a new loyalty program: “The driving force behind the loyalty program is our customers. We’re very fortunate that they are extremely passionate about our brand. They tell us, ‘We want a loyalty program. We want a way to be more engaged with your brand.’ In response, we are creating this program to formally recognize their loyalty. We will also have the added benefit of insight into customers’ shopping behaviors, which will allow us to better target offers and communications.”

On using possible channel conflict to your advantage: Today, “it’s about the sheer number of options that a customer has. Not long ago, your shopping options were limited by what was available in your area. Now, the entire world is at your fingertips! Knowing that the customer has almost endless choices, the challenge is to find what WE can do to make our experience special for our customers and make them WANT to continue to shop with us, knowing that there are so many options.”

How NOT to fall on deaf ears: “Not only do you have to figure out how your customer wants you to communicate and via which channel, but you have to ask yourself, “How do I stand out from the crowd?” In this world of information overload, every other retailer is trying to gain your customers’ business as well. How can you go the extra mile and give customers a meaningful, one-to-one message that wins their attention?”

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