On our most recent retail safari we explored some of the best customer experiences London has to offer. We’d heard that Lush on Oxford Street had introduced a Quiet Shopping Hour – designed to make their stores more accessible to autistic people – and we were excited to understand how brands can adapt to become more inclusive.
We were initially disappointed to experience the sensory overload awaiting us. Bright lights, pumping music and sweet scents enveloped us whilst a Lush team member playfully blew soap suds at us as we entered. This was anything but quiet.
But it was not long before our bewilderment gave way to complete joy as we took in the incredible customer experience Lush offers its shoppers – no wonder it ranks 3rd in KPMG’s 2019 Customer Experience Excellence analysis report.
Here are five ways I saw Lush deliver a 5* customer experience while we shopped:
1. Listen and prototype
Whilst chatting to the store manager it emerged that the Quiet Shopping Hour had been scrapped because the team weren’t able to control audio and lighting in the environment as much as they would have liked to.
The manager went on to explain that embracing failures, and the learnings that come with them, very much forms part of the company’s DNA, since Lush’s founders built the brand from the ashes of their previous business which had bankrupted them.
What struck me was the autonomy store managers are given to listen to their customers and implement relevant local initiatives, keeping stores fresh and adapting – or scrapping – new projects based on real-time feedback.
Lush employees really make the shopping experience all about the individual customer. They get to know your needs, likes and dislikes and are able to recommend the best products for you because of their in-depth knowledge. When you’re browsing they take a soft sales approach, guiding you as you browse and encouraging you to touch and smell the products, asking just the right questions to help you find the best products for you. I left feeling like I’d had a bespoke personal care consultation and knowing exactly what I needed!
2. Make it personal
Hands down one of my favourite things in-store is the fact that there are test & play areas everywhere. Children gathered round sinks squealing in delight as glittery gooey flowery bath bombs were dropped into sinks, releasing a stream of fizzy bubbles that enveloped everything. Lush allows you to unleash your inner child and discover product through play, meaning you get real enjoyment from the product experience in-store, which will continue all the way home.
3. Make it playful
It really struck me to see how generous Lush is with product. I decided to try out some shampoo for my daughter, but rather than asking me to buy a full-sized bottle, the team gave me three samples to take home and try, so that when I came back I could buy the right one for her. And yes, I did come back and spent a lot of money not just for my daughter but for me too, as I was blown away by the results!
4. Be generous!
Lush is a pioneering force in the personal care market, trying to use business for good. Whilst they’ve been selling naked products for a while now, I was excited to see they’re leading the way in make-up too – calling out the amount of plastic rubbish generated by mainstream cosmetics. Lush’s solution to the problem? Slap Sticks – foundation wrapped in peelable, biodegradable wax. I love the way they make you reflect on the impact your purchasing power has, gently nudging you to make ethical choices. Minimising make-up packaging seems like a no-brainer now to me.
5. Kind to people and planet is kind to profit too
Lush’s customer experience turned me from lapsed customer to brand fan in one fell swoop. I’ve since been back twice and am slowly swapping out my regular, heavily preserved and packaged items, with their fresh and fragrant products. And it’s all down to their innovative and human approach to retail.