‘Customer’ is the prime focus for any CEO; however, the challenge lies in imparting new experiences everytime. Moreover, customers’ expectations are continuously resetting may be by competitors or themselves. Retail worldwide is going through a radical change and we are witnessing the dawn of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, bots, predictive analytics and a host of others.
With such growing tech influence, there has been a tremendous change the way brands engage and interact with their customers. The customer relationship has never been in such fux.
This has made the role of CEOs even more challenging; CEOs are constantly striving to understand how do customers feel about the experience they are getting from their brands?
Further, they focus on strategies to ensure they are being able to manage and meet customer expectations and same time delivering value for shareholders.
In a global survey of CEOs conducted by KPMG International, 70% of CEOs felt a growing responsibility to represent the best interests of their customers and 67% want to focus on building trust. Three in five agreed that protecting customers’ data is one of their most important jobs as a CEO, likely reflecting higher expectations as a result of the new European General Data Protection (GDPR) regulations. One in three said they are actively repositioning their brand to respond to the expectations of millennials.
KPMG study also states that brands are now starting to think of their customers as assets that should be protected, nurtured and invested in. They view their customers’ loyalty as a form of equity in the company. And they are thinking about how they might start to move their customers onto their balance sheets vs a simple transactional relationship that appears periodically on the income statement as a revenue item.
Here are few brands which have already achieved the same. Let’s understand how..
Apple Store wants their Stores to be positioned as community gathering places rather than just a place dedicated to pure retailing of iPhone or iPad. To create amicable environment and encourage social gatherings the brand has come up with an evolved a program called ‘Today at Apple’ which schedules free classes, experiential events and other programs that people can sign up for online. The Photo Walk, where an Apple employee walks customers through a scenic walk providing the tips and tricks for getting the best photos out of an iPhone, has proved extremely popular.
The Italian stores certainly conform to this desire. The selection of appropriate architecture and building design is critical to stores in historic cities and locations – Apple has been highly diligent in selecting and designing stores that match the iconic locations. In a city of fountains, the Apple Store in Milan is designed around two indoor waterfalls with beautiful hand-carved Italian staircases enabling access between sales foors. Against this local backdrop, Apple continues to deliver excellent, highly informed and inspirational experiences.
This iconic retailer is known for its values and its natural products. The brand is also known as campaigning brand as it had played an active role in various social causes such as spearheading anti-animal testing campaigns, to working to minimize packaging or using ethical sourcing methods, customers in the Netherlands feel that each aspect of the Lush experience refects the moral code that guides the business. Lush stores are designed using a delicatessen motif also the in-store staff is encouraged to be consultative and diagnostic rather than sales-focused. They are trained in detail as they have been imparted the deep knowledge about product ingredients so they assist customers in better manner.
Luxembourg based Ernster is a small chain of bookstores with a big reputation. The retailer is positioned as social hangout place for those who are passionate about books. Established in 1889, the frm has long known that books can build bridges between cultures and so most staff can speak four languages. But it is those that demonstrate a passion for books (“L’esprit livre”) and a willingness to smile that are most heavily recruited. And it is the smile that seems to have the greatest impact with customers. Their passion for books manifests itself in numerous literature events, signings and readings. The company seeks out opportunities to allow their customers to not just buy and read a book, but to also understand the author’s intent, the context that the book was written in and the deeper, more profound meanings. Not surprisingly, Ernster has a reputation for providing a deeper and more insightful perspective for those who are truly energized by reading. Rapid service, advanced multichannel ordering systems and an almost legendary ability to source rare or out-ofprint books ensure high levels of customer satisfaction.
Established in 1983, QVC UK is a television shopping channel broadcast in the United Kingdom. In 2011 QVC UK began to refocus on their customer experience. They focused on Empathy, from the presenters on TV, to their distribution center in Liverpool, through to how they delivered digital experiences. In support of this, QVC restructured the organization and incorporated new technologies with the aim of getting closer to the customer. They focused on understanding customers’ expectations and connecting their organization across channels to deliver them. In the process they adapted their product range, based on how their target customers’ expectations changed in response to seasons, events and times of the day. Consumers in the UK now rate QVC UK as the leading brand according to our research.
(The above mentioned content has been extracted from a report from KPMG titled ‘Tomorrow’s Experience, Today!’ released in June 2018)