'Trust' permeates customer experience in the Czech Republic. Often consumers approach a brand with the expectation that they'll be misled in some way. Similarly (and perhaps unusually) some organizations also have little trust for customers.
And while this unease can create a difficult situation in the Czech Republic, it also presents exciting opportunities. With the pillar of Integrity being the number one influencer for customer loyalty and advocacy, there is a clear goal for organizations to aim for. The restaurant brand McDonald's, for example, saw a strong boost in its Integrity score in the latest study. This result was aided, in part, by the introduction of its new McWalk service, which used speciallyadapted windows for pedestrian customers. These enabled them to maintain social distancing and remain safe in the more uncertain world of COVID-19.
Similarly, the bank Cˇeská sporˇitelna saw a strong performance in 2020. This brand made the effort to stay in touch with its customers throughout COVID-19, contacting them over the phone and through a variety of other channels, sometimes just to check on their well-being.
This 'cordiality' is also in evidence amongst the Czech Republic's strongest performers. Tank ONO, for instance, operates a network of filling stations throughout the country, and takes third place in this year's study. In a marketplace that's fuelled by distrust, Tank ONO managed to reassure customers by aspiring to deliver the cheapest petrol in the country, without compromising on quality — often by operating at very low margins.
In addition to this, Tank ONO boasted dedicated employees who were eager to help out at any opportunity. "I always prefer this company's products and services," said one respondent. "This is definitely the most cordial company for me and I always like to return there."
Another company that performed well in the pillar of Time and Effort was the shipping brand Zásilkovna. This is perhaps unsurprising given the nature of Zásilkovna's business and the often urgent need for packages to reach their destinations within short timeframes. But this organization is also efficient; it offers approximately 3,500 delivery points throughout the country, and customers can collect parcels from these spots at convenient times.
As one customer explained: "We have several collection points in the city. It's fast, without any waiting and most importantly the prices are good." It should also be noted that Zásilkovna offers next day delivery on the majority of its local shipments, and it also delivers to Europe and the USA, with plans to branch out to the Middle East in the near future.
The leading brand is from the financial services sector. Air Bank, which was established in 2011,1 ranks in first place, benefitting from a clear, customer-centric goal: to offer simplicity, truthfulness, and not hide behind 'small print.' As such, one of its highest pillar scores is in the pillar of Integrity, and one customer even described Air Bank as "probably the best bank I have experience with."
Indeed, banking with this organization is a very personable experience. Visitors to its branches are often plied with free cups of coffee, and they are free to bring their pets with them if they choose. But the arrival of COVID-19 gave Air Bank an opportunity to take its customercentricity even further, creating a 'deferral of payment' program for those in financial distress as a result of COVID-19. Simply put, customers who were repaying loans or mortgages were able to defer their payments up to a period of six months, and they were also given more control over the size of those payment amounts.2
This was a relatively easy procedure for Air Bank's customers, owing to the brand's finely-tuned digital offering. And yet, throughout the country, the transition to a more digital environment continues to be a challenge, and moving forward this will certainly be one of the biggest hurdles for Czech brands to overcome. They will need to be more agile, and more innovative — and they will need to move faster.
In addition, organizations are faced with a more wary customer, who's more reluctant to spend due to the uncertainty created by COVID-19.
If brands are to compete in a marketplace of more selective customers, they will need to capitalize on The Six Pillars. For the Czech Republic, the most important of these will be Integrity. Brands need to operate more openly, fairly, and in a way which respects the customers' needs.
“COVID-19 directed the spotlight on digital channels, communications, products. According to our research, companies are now aware of this, and are ready to invest. However, in our discussions with clients, we stress the very basic principle: it is great that we now have a chance to use digital to serve customers better. Different people have different needs. This perspective needs to shape the approach to digital, and not just be digital for digital's sake." ”
Head of Customer Advisory
KPMG in the Czech Republic