In many ways, Mexico bucks the trend in this year's study. While the pillars of Personalization and Integrity are key for building loyalty and advocacy (as is the case in many markets), Mexico is unusual in that its leading sector is travel and hotels. That is not to say that Mexico has been unaffected by COVID-19 — far from it. But it is the way the sector has responded to the crisis that most resonates with Mexican survey respondents.
In practice, this meant that a number of hotels changed their cancellation policies, and became overall more flexible, recognizing that COVID-19 was generating a lot of uncertainty for guests. As well as this, several brands assisted the healthcare sector by giving rooms to health personnel, and providing cleaning services to hospitals.
Indeed, 'flexibility' is a theme that permeates the 2020 study in Mexico. Outside of the travel and hotels sector, brands such as Omnibus excelled because of the range of different transport options on offer, tailored to passengers' varied needs.
Similarly, the taxi service Cabify sought to continually adapt based on customer feedback, constantly looking for new ways to improve the overall experience.
This was something the sportswear retailer Nike was particularly keen on. Nike paid close attention to the pillar of Personalization, going to extraordinary lengths to help shoppers find exactly the right trainers. Its Nike Adapt footwear, for example, can physically mould itself to the wearer's feet, based on sensors which are connected to the brand's smartphone app.1 The user can also pre-set the shoes to adjust their fit depending on whether they're in 'chill' mode or 'move' mode, and the trainers will even respond to voice commands. There is also an option for wearers to lace the trainers simply by pressing a button on their smartphones.2
It's clear from such innovations that technology is becoming more integrated into Mexican customer experience. And with COVID-19 remaining a key part of many people's lives and more and more people relying on the internet to connect with brands, Mexican organizations will have to innovate. They may not have to develop self-lacing shoes, but they'll need to think 'outside the box' as customer expectations continue to grow.
The hotel brand Hilton is a good example of this, and in Mexico ranks at number two in 2020. Its smartphone app has been seamlessly integrated into its customer experience; guests can use it to perform digital check-ins, and select their preferred room choices.
The app is also linked to Google Maps, meaning that customers can see where their room is located within the hotel building. In addition, customers can use their smartphones as door keys, and complete the check-out process via the app without having to queue in the lobby or fill out any paperwork.
This sense of customer-centric Personalization is in evidence amongst its staff, too. As one guest said: "I loved staying at the Hilton because they were very cordial, and it has a spectacular service. I love it; it is like being in a luxurious place where you can feel at home, but at the same time it's as if you were in another world."
However, it's the travel and hotels brand Marriott that takes the top spot in Mexico. Like Hilton, Marriott's customer experience in Mexico is aided by exemplary staff who are committed to the wellbeing of guests. As one respondent put it: "Marriott is my favourite hotel brand in the world… All their staff are extraordinary and spectacular. Excellent service and definitely the best hotel chain."
This sentiment certainly rang true when COVID-19 arrived, with Marriott in Mexico being one of the first brands to introduce a flexible cancellation policy for customers, meaning they could cancel up to 24 hours before their arrival with no extra charge. In addition, Marriott made its hotels available to healthcare (and supermarket) workers for free, and it established a Global Cleanliness Council, working with experts to develop new hygiene products such as electrostatic sprays to disinfect its facilities. There was also an ultraviolet light for the sanitization of guest keys.
As Marriott explained on its website to customers: "As we welcome you back to our hotels around the world, we are committed to providing you with a safe environment that aligns with expert protocols for working to defeat COVID-19… We will actively monitor and evolve our solutions to ensure a continued focus on the health and safety of our guests and associates."3
Marriott was successful in the Mexican research in 2020 because of how deeply it understood its customers, and because of its willingness to innovate and embrace new technologies. These characteristics will define Mexico's leading brands in 2021; they will build omnichannel experiences that meet and exceed customer expectations, adapting to the ever-changing needs of the world around them.
“Mexican brands should build an experience that's customer-centric focused, and constantly learn about their customers to know how their needs and expectations are changing. I doubt we will ever see static customers again, so our front, middle and back offices will need to have flexible structures with the ability to adjust and improve customer relationships, and build trust and loyalty throughout the epidemic period, and beyond." ”
Customer Solutions Partner
KPMG in Mexico