In recent years Romania has been one of the fastest-growing economies in the EU.55 Much of this has been driven by private consumption and has polarised the country’s customer experience, with some companies focusing purely on sales targets and others recognising the value of a carefully nurtured customer relationship.
At the moment, the story in Romania can sometimes be one of frustration. Customers can find themselves forced into unhappy relationships with brands owing to a lack of alternative choices. And this unease seems to stem from a lack of ability in the pillar of Empathy, according to respondents to the Customer Experience Excellence research.
Conversely, there are companies such as the non-grocery retailer Carturesti, which ranks at number five in the study. Bookstore chain Carturesti stands out particularly for its staunch customer-centricity and its ability to look beyond traditional marketing tropes such as happy hours and loyalty cards, to focus instead on a love of reading and hosting cultural events. As one respondent to the research described, “My experiences with Carturesti have always been pleasant... The atmosphere as a whole is very pleasant and urges you to stay and come back whenever you feel the need to relax and disconnect from everyday life.”
Customer-centricity is a quality that is shared amongst the highest performing brands in Romania in 2019. The first of these is the financial services organization ING Bank, which ranks in third place. With some 54,000 employees serving around 38.4 million customers, corporate clients and financial institutions in over 40 countries56 , ING Bank’s operation is a large one, and the scale of its customer-centricity is equally impressive. It has a clearly laid-out strategy which aims to “make banking clear and easy, available anytime and anywhere and to keep getting better.”57
"We see today a Romanian customer that is more connected than ever, more demanding and willing to switch providers with little or no effort. Competitive advantage is increasingly based on knowing your client and creating tailored experiences, as well as on building honest, transparent relationships. The Romanian market, albeit being reasonably polarized, has generally embarked on a serious journey to delivering customer excellence."
Dr. Victor Iancu
Customer Advisory Lead,
KPMG in Romania
However, ING Bank does not rest on its laurels. The brand concedes that the world of financial services is evolving at an unprecedented rate, disrupted by newcomers using robots and AI technology. ING Bank is committed to “[being] where they are,” and aims to “remain relevant and continue delivering differentiating experiences for customers.”58
This raison d’être is shared by Romania’s second highest-ranking brand. The digital financial services organization Revolut allows customers to manage their monetary matters via a smartphone app.
Despite its technical prowess, one of Revolut’s distinguishing features is in the pillar of Personalization. Revolut sees itself as a brand that is ready to adapt to customers’ needs and let them dictate the shape of the CX. “Whether you’re running a business or running out for bread, Revolut is building a global bank to suit your lifestyle,” it says.59
This ethos is in evidence in the brand’s smartphone app, with a number of innovative optional features. One of these allows customers to round up every card payment to the nearest whole number, with the app stashing away the spare change into a special savings pot. The application also allows people to set up monthly budgets for specific transactions, such as restaurants and groceries.60
And with such innovation being practiced in Romania, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the highest-scoring brand is The Samsung Store, which ranks in first place. Like all top performers, The Samsung Store delivers across The Six Pillars, and is Romania’s leading brand for almost all of them.
Undoubtedly, one of The Samsung Store’s key capabilities is in the pillar of Time and Effort, owing to the ease with which customers can access relevant information and achieve their goals. As one customer explained: “Samsung means to me the assurance of quality, and Samsung Store does not disappoint. Everything is simple, at the fingertips of anyone, from products, information, etc.”
The pillar of Personalization is also a top consideration for The Samsung Store, with many branches offering one-to-one tutorials and on-hand expert advice. There’s a sense that the brand invests in delivering the right information at the right time, rather than securing a fast sale.o
The ‘fast sale’ culture is still prevalent in Romania in 2019, and it may take a while for every organization to recognize the commercial value that can be unlocked from CX. But with consumers spending at one of the fastest rates in Europe, the need to compete is becoming increasingly important – and it’s companies such as The Samsung Store and Revolut that are already spearheading this battle, and will inspire others to follow their example.
*55 Eurostat, 2019