A Commitment to its Customers Guides Brooks BrothersJanuary 15, 2013 By Joe Keenan
As the country's oldest retailer (established in 1818), Brooks Brothers has had its fair share of customers over the years. In that time the men's business and casual apparel retailer has learned that to continue its legacy as one of America's most respected brands, it must listen to what those customers have to say and then make changes based on that feedback.
At the National Retail Federation's Big Show in New York City yesterday, Ken Seiff, executive vice president of direct and omnichannel at Brooks Brothers, discussed his company's customer-centric philosophy. Seiff can offer unique insight into this not only because he works for Brooks Brothers, but he comes from a family of Brooks Brothers' customers. His great grandfather, grandfather, father and himself all bought their first suit from the brand.
Kids want to buy the same brand [Brooks Brothers] as their parents do, Seiff said. How many companies can say that about themselves, he asked the audience. In addition to the quality clothing that Brooks Brothers sells, its commitment to customer service is the reason it's been around for so long.
We're old because we're good, not good because we're old, Seiff said.
Seiff cited some examples of this legendary customer service in Brooks Brothers' formative years: the company's first transaction was a loan; it moved its Manhattan storefront uptown five times in order to be closer to its affluent customer base, which was leaving the less desirable downtown area of the city; it began selling ready-made clothing to customers eager to head out West for the gold rush; and in 1963 it created the first wrinkle-free Oxford shirt.
The latest customer service challenge for Brooks Brother is to make shopping online more personal. We want it to mirror the in-store shopping experience, Seiff said. To that end, the brand has invested heavily in new technologies, platforms and top-notch employees.
One such technology that Brooks Brothers has implemented online is a personalization algorithm. The web has a great memory and listens to shoppers through links clicked on, pages viewed, the use of a zoom tool, purchases, among other things, Seiff said. With the help of its vendor partner MyBuys, Brooks Brothers rolled out its personalization engine and has seen phenomenal results. Shoppers that are served via the personalization engine are five times more likely to convert. They're also more likely to buy from the brand again, Seiff added.