Become a “Private Concierge”
- Use high-tech to enable “mass customization” and maintain high quality

Many older adults wish to live independently in their own homes as long as possible. Even so, they often feel uneasy in their everyday life.

Beacon Hill Village is a membership organization that offers essential services for older people living in this historic area of Boston, Massachusetts. They have been successful in understanding and meeting their customers’ needs.

Beacon Hill is an 18thCentury upscale residential neighborhood near downtown Boston.Fourteen percent of the area’s 9,000 residents is 60 years old or older. Most of them do not wish to move out of this area even when they get quite old. “Village Concierge” is a popular service provided by Beacon Hill Village. A member can just call in and request services such as grocery shopping, transportation, cleaning, and other daily in-home services.

As the society ages, the demand for concierge services will increase. Many older adults need services exclusively for them.

However, it generally costs a lot to provide such individualized, time- and labor-intensive services. “Les Concierges” is a good example of how a business solves this cost problem. This San Francisco-based company provides individuals with the same kind of “concierge services” that high-class hotels offer their guests, such as access to hard-to-get tickets, restaurant reservations, etc.

The appeal of Les Concierges was initially limited to wealthy people since the membership fee for these services cost a minimum of $3,540. In 1990, however, Les Concierges introduced a new business model. The company contracts with an employer and serves as a “private concierge” for its employees. The employer pays for the services that their employees receive. The services they provide vary from supporting an employee when a parent gets sick suddenly to arranging a family trip.

The structure of this business is similar to what we have in Japan where an agent arranges reservations and other things for a company’s employees to use the facilities and services that their company offers.

The biggest difference, however, is that the “private concierge” offers truly customized services for each employee. How can they do this? The combination of their highly trained professional staff and their own IT system makes it possible. They have built an IT system that can identify the possible needs of each customer based on their past service records. Thanks to this database of personal information, the staff of Les Concierges can communicate efficiently with each of the five million customers registered with them today.

The combination of quality staff and the IT system made it possible

In Japan, Suruga Bank claimed to be a “concierge bank,” meaning that they will be the concierge for their customers by providing all kinds of financial services as well as support for their customers’ everyday life. Specifically, they provide a service called “web concierge”.

Customers who have an account with them can see their account balance, the sum of their credit card payments, the balance of their loan, the sum of direct debits—all in one screen. And you can make an inquiry by e-mail if necessary. While services such as this do offer convenience to the bank’s customers, the bank will have to do more if it to fully deliver on its promise to provide true concierge-type services.

The combination of quality staff and the IT system made it possible for Les Concierges to turn a small-scale human-oriented “private concierge” business into a large-scaled highly profitable high tech business. They also succeeded in enlarging their market by popularizing the services that used to be limited to wealthy people.

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