In May 2020, the UK – along with much of the rest of the world – was in a national lockdown due to COVID-19. Social distancing and other restrictions had a major impact on businesses from restaurants to hair salons … and the world of personal beauty consulting was no exception.
With beauty halls forced to close, and many Beauty Advisors furloughed, No7 had to think creatively about how to continue to serve customers while national lockdowns remained in effect. That’s when the brand launched its first-ever virtual beauty services for customers. Born out of necessity, the services have proven to be an effective and useful way to reach customers, and are still going strong today.
Held via telephone or video link, customers select their consultation type – from skincare or cosmetic specific questions all the way to technique-based appointments that focus on brows or eyes – and are then put in touch with a trusted advisor for tailored product recommendations and application hints and tips, completely free of charge.
How it works
- The customer visits Boots.com and chooses which type of consultation they would like to book.
- They receive an SMS text and email confirming the date and time of their appointment. For video consultations, they receive a calendar invitation with details on how to access their appointment.
- The consultation is delivered virtually either via telephone call, or video call using Microsoft Teams.
- The customer receives a follow-up email with a summary of the service and links to recommended products.
Since the launch of virtual consultations, No7 has reported a 50% book-back rate, enabling them to build rapport and an ongoing customer base. It’s not hard to see why: following their consultation, customers are asked to share their feedback on the service, receiving an average star rating of 4.96 out of 5 on the appointment itself and 4.92 out of 5 for the advisor. 100% of customers also said they would recommend this service to a friend or family member. No7 has also seen excellent commercial results on the back of the initiative, with the average order value following a virtual service doubling that of an in-store appointment.
Despite stores and beauty halls now opening back up, No7 virtual services remain running as a way for customers who may be still feel uncomfortable going into stores to access No7 advice virtually.
“Virtual services are brilliant because they are so convenient and quick,” says No7 Beauty Advisor, Katie Midgley. “They are perfect for customers who don’t feel confident taking their makeup off and talking about their concerns around other people, customers who lead busy lives and don’t have time to visit a store or for customers who are most vulnerable in our current pandemic. Whatever the circumstance by offering this service we are here for our customers when it suits them.”
August 2020 also saw the launch of the new No7 Personalized Skin Analysis, which helps customers identify their ideal skincare products from the comfort of home via Boots.com.
With the help of a couple of key questions and a bare-faced selfie from the customer, the new tool uses highly-sophisticated AI technology to provide a personalized skin analysis to identify the areas of the face that need a little extra TLC. The technology is trained to accurately measure the skin on a customer’s face using over 100 different metrics and analyses this against a library of over 30,000 images of real people from a variety of ethnicities and ages as well as a focus on eight key skin concerns– all in less than two minutes, and all to provide the most comprehensive personalized skin analysis. The tool also directs customers to the in store and virtual services so that they can book an appointment and discuss any questions they may have.
“We know the skincare category is evolving with the recognition that skin is impacted by what is going on inside and outside of the body as well as behaviour,” says Munnawar Chishty, VP and global category director, beauty, for No7. “With the advancement of technology, we now have the ability to measure, diagnose, monitor and create personalized, holistic interventions to help our consumers care for their skin like never before.”
With these digital innovations, No7 demonstrates the need for brands to remain agile and responsive to consumer needs.
“It’s no longer enough to grow our brands through relevant product differentiation,” Chishty adds. “We need to provide consumers with personalized experiences and have a more creative and unique approach to innovation – constantly anticipating the future needs of our consumers. The virtual beauty services and Personalized Skin Analysis are the latest steps in an exciting journey to bring even more personalized products and services to our No7 consumers as part of our mission to create a leading global beauty business.”