John Lewis has long been held up as a brand other retailers aspire to, due to its reputation for quality and customer service.

And so it was a privilege to interview the chain’s director of customer experience at our Leaders of Luxury conference this week.

Peter Cross talked about his work with the National Theatre to give John Lewis staff ‘theatre training’ that would boost their confidence.

He said this was attractive to consumers because it gives them reassurance about their purchases. Tellingly, when I asked him if the staff in the Kuoni concession stores within 19 John Lewis branches were also going through the theatre training, he said they didn’t need it!

Peter also said the ‘experience economy’ was a massive deal in retail. He talked about holding in-store initiatives such as fashion styling and interior design sessions, or even sleeping overnight in stores to test a bedroom.

Peter said the future of customer service was “taking John Lewis into customers’ homes”, sending experienced staff to houses all over the country to help clients with their wardrobes, home-furnishings or technology, for example.

Of course, many good agents already hold events and visit clients, increasingly offering a more personalised service to make themselves indispensable. But agents can always learn lessons from other industries – so why not bring even more experiences and theatre into stores?

Comment from Travel Weekly, June 26 edition