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In Germany, CX success can vary depending on the sector. Often, this is not necessarily because of the specific brands; rather, it is about the level of expectation on the part of the consumer.

In grocery retail, for example, customers’ expectations are quite moderate. On the one hand, German consumers are concerned with the price points, while on the other hand there is a significant correlation between good CX and loyalty and recommendation. German grocery retail has not yet migrated as strongly to the digital services as other sectors (like financial services) due to its structure (dense branch network, short distances, fast accessibility, high product quality, low price level) and the preference for selecting products on the spot. Shoppers do not transfer their expectations from the online trade to the stationary grocery retail trade. It remains to be seen how long consumers will be satisfied with the status quo; the current KPMG Germany Customer Value Study shows that 66 percent of shoppers have either used a food online shop or can imagine using one. Furthermore, there is a significant increase in e-food sales compared with the same period of the previous year. This may be one of the first harbingers of rising expectations that already exist in other sectors.

"The results of our survey clearly show: investing in establishing a customer-centric organization pays off. Managing the balance between digital and personal customer services will make the difference to deliver outstanding customer experience."

Tom Lurtz
Partner, Customer Advisory,
KPMG in Germany

That being said, these truths do not always result in apathy; a number of grocery retailers have achieved CX success despite a widespread preoccupation with pricing. For example, companies such as Edeka and Alnatura, the highest-ranking grocery retailers in the German research, take a much more holistic approach to CX management, creating a welcoming atmosphere in their stores whilst also honoring the origin of their products. Alnatura in particular is careful to stock a variety of products that are both vegetarian and sustainable, aiding its performance in the pillar of Integrity.

Integrity is a pillar that’s particularly evocative with the German consumer: it has a 19.8 percent weighting on customer advocacy, higher than any other pillar.

Financial services organization ING, which is ranked third in the German 2019 research, achieves one of the highest scores for the pillar of Integrity. This focus can be sensed in its core purpose, which is to “[empower] people to stay a step ahead in life and in business. Our purpose guides us in everything we do.” ING adds: “It’s founded on our belief that ING’s role as a financial institution is to support and promote economic, social and environmental progress.”22 It’s not only the pillar of Integrity in which ING performs ahead of the market; the bank is notable for its strengths in meeting and even exceeding Expectations, with one respondent to the research noting the “Excellent online processing in all areas, it is hardly necessary to support service advisors. In addition, ING has a fast and self-explanatory user interface!”

Despite being an online-only bank in Germany, ING scored the highest for the pillar of Empathy out of all banks ranked. The capability to convey Empathy via digital touchpoints could give ING a future edge over traditional banks.

Similar values can be seen in Germany’s second highest ranking brand – the optician Fielmann. Fielmann revolutionized the market for glasses that are subsidized by health insurance companies in Germany, by making them affordable for customers. The organization performs particularly well in demonstrating Empathy and Personalization, achieving the highest scores in the German research for these pillars. Much of this success can be traced to the brand’s recognition of the importance of emotional connections, considering the way in which employee experience bisects with CX. Fielmann’s aim is to treat customers in the same way that they would want to be treated themselves, with a rigorous training and support program to help employees to deliver on this. Indeed, “the customer is you” is the guiding principle of Fielmann’s corporate philosophy.

In addition, the optician is also investing heavily in multichannel innovation, in order to combine its strength in personal consultancy with extended digital services. These include the possibility of reordering individually customized contact lenses via web or app; or the project of digital mirrors for the Fielmann branches – currently in development – in order to try on eyewear using computer animation.

The highest-ranking brand in this year’s German research is the hotel chain Hilton. Being customer-centric is a discipline that has paid off for this organization, but Hilton also stands out for the way it’s seamlessly able to combine personal and digital interactions to fulfill its brand promise of valuing guests and providing an unforgettable stay.

From a digital perspective, the Hilton smartphone app provides a more connected experience for its guests. Known as Honors, the app allows customers to select their preferred choice of hotel room and also place special orders ahead of their arrival, such as refreshments or extra pillows. In addition, the app allows visitors to use their smartphones as keys to enter their rooms, as well as to check out at the end of their stay to avoid queuing. Customers acknowledge these benefits with a top Time and Effort score for the brand.

Ultimately, it’s those that blend the best of human and machine that feature at the top of the rankings in Germany, as organizations like Hilton demonstrate. A more integrated lens should be a consideration for other brands as they set about reforming their CX in 2019 and beyond.

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Leading CX brands in Germany



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