In Singapore, customer expectations have grown since the arrival of COVID-19. Customers are demanding more, and are judging brands based on how ethically they've responded to COVID-19. In turn, this mindset is affecting customer advocacy. They are more likely to 'promote' organizations that meet these new, higher expectations.
In addition, brands have to prove they can be trusted in the eyes of the consumer. For organizations such as the hotel chain Hilton — which saw significant growth in the pillar of Integrity in Singapore — this trust was won through initiatives like the SG Clean trademark. This campaign was launched by the Singapore Tourism Board in February 2020, setting a high standard of cleanliness for brands to adapt — something which Hilton embraced. The brand received the SG Clean 'stamp' which helped to boost guests' confidence, particularly after the outbreak of COVID-19. It's worth noting that Hilton's cleanliness also helped the brand in Mexico, where it ranked in second place overall.
Indeed, trust and the pillar of Integrity have proven to be important across the 2020 study; 90 percent of respondents stated that they'd be willing to pay more for ethical retailers, while 79 percent admitted to being concerned about the global economic situation. There is a call for brands to share these concerns, and show that they care.
And while Integrity is one of the strongest pillars for the third highestranking brand in Singapore — Apple Store — the pillar of Personalization has also been key to its success. At Apple Store, it's clear that every aspect of the customer experience has been designed with the customer in mind, with its outlets being more akin to luxurious, sensory experiences than shops. Even subtle touches like potted plants and modular seats help to foster a sense of being 'looked after.'
More specifically, its staff members engage in conversations with customers, listening to their needs and making appropriate product recommendations. This gives a sense of being 'there to help' — not just achieving quick sales. It's worth noting, as well, that Apple Store ranks at number three in Singapore, mirroring its success in Italy where it ranked at number two.
Looking at brands such as Apple Store, it's also apparent that the employee experience is an important consideration for the highestscoring organizations. For instance, Apple Store employees tend to be passionate brand advocates who enjoy helping others, and a number of organizations now recognize that happy employees usually deliver the best customer experiences.
At Singapore Airlines — which ranks at number two in this year's study, employees and their families receive a free air ticket once a year to any destination within the airline's network, and it also offers discounted travel throughout the year, and profitsharing bonuses.1
Singapore Airlines also has a frequent flyers programme called KrisFlyer. Members of this programme accumulate 'miles' which can be exchanged for rewards such as flight discounts, or discounts in its own KrisShop. During COVID-19, the airline introduced a further initiative called KrisPay It Forward, which allowed passengers to donate their miles to buy treats for frontline workers, such as healthcare employees and public transport operators. This initiative may have influenced Singapore Airline's Integrity score, which is one of its highest in 2020.
The leading brand in this year's study is the financial services organization American Express. Like Singapore Airlines, this organization offers customer 'perks' such as air miles and airport lounge access, highlighting its customer-centricity.
But the brand's strongest pillar score is in that of Resolution. Many respondents have praised its dedication to finding positive outcomes, with no request being too small. As one customer put it: "American Express provides the best customer experience out of all the companies I have dealt with…
Not only do they provide a human touch, they think from the customer's perspective and I strongly feel they empathize with the customer's situation and problem when we contact them. Even if they cannot solve it on the spot, they will advise that you can do your other tasks and they will get back to you, and they always do."
For many customers, American Express represents a lifestyle rather than a credit card. Respondents explained that they could rely on it to be consistently efficient, empathetic and personable. Indeed, American Express is the highest-scoring brand in four of The Six Pillars for the whole country.
Looking ahead, brands in Singapore will need to continually adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19. Singapore is faced with a more digitally-savvy consumer, who has heightened expectations around what a 'good' experience looks like. This is as much a challenge for the higher ranking brands as everyone else, as online competition grows and intensifies. The 'winners' will be those who get to know their customers intimately through careful analysis, curating customer experiences that are highly personalized and efficient.
“Technology such as digital experience platforms, artificial intelligence and chatbots is not the silver bullet for brands looking to elevate their customer experience — however it is a key enabler in facilitating connections between brands and consumers, by humanising technology to create real connections." ”
KPMG in Singapore
Singapore General Hospital