As in many countries, COVID-19 concern has gripped Slovakia. Spending has deteriorated, with Slovakian consumers putting off larger purchases and taking longer to buy non-essentials.
Understandably, personal health has also been at the forefront of people's minds. People have been reluctant to interact with brands in person and have, instead, leaned more heavily on digital channels, severely impacting sectors such as travel and hotels which now need to find new ways to survive in a world where COVID-19 is still a threat. Indeed, this is symptomatic of a wider global trend in which 82 percent of respondents have indicated that they're more likely to favor digital wallets over cash in the future. This was further supported by a study conducted in Slovakia which indicated that over 50 percent of e-commerce businesses grew or remained stable during the peak months of COVID-19.
Undoubtedly, when COVID-19's grip was at its tightest in the first wave, customers needed the reassurance that they could still conduct their business from the comfort of their own homes, and those sectors that provided fast, seamless experiences were the ones that performed best for CX. In Slovakia, the nongrocery retail sector takes the lead in 2020, combining quick deliveries with favorable return policies and friendly services.
In addition, Slovakian customers prefer organizations that show they stand for more than just being a business. They favor brands that look out for their best interests, as well the interests of their employees and the planet.
This is reflected in Slovakia's leading pillar for loyalty, which is now Integrity, and many nongrocery retailers stand out for their loyalty programs which — as well as offering personalized deals and free deliveries — help consumers to feel as if they are 'buying into' organizations, and are becoming part of something bigger.
The pillar of Personalization is also important in Slovakia, and is the biggest driver for customer advocacy. This is certainly something the retailer Tchibo recognizes, landing at number three in this year's study. Having begun life as a coffee shop and café, the brand now sells a much wider selection of products and is praised by consumers for its relaxed atmosphere and helpful personnel. In addition, Tchibo works hard to surprise and delight, introducing new product ranges every Tuesday to keep people inspired and engaged.1
One of the brand's strongest pillars, is Resolution. Customers speak highly of Tchibo's returns policy, which allows people to return unwanted goods within 30 days of purchase without having to give a reason.
As one consumer explained: "We have great experience with Tchibo. The staff are always helpful, and there are no problems with returning products—no questions are asked. Products are always high quality."
Similarly, the retailer IKEA performs well in this year's study, landing at number two — mirroring its equally high rankings in Sweden and Australia. In Slovakia, the nongrocery retailer is synonymous with high quality and affordability, and customers often go to great lengths to shop with the brand, despite the fact it has only one outlet in the whole country.
And like Tchibo, IKEA has blended dining with retail to create an overall more pleasant customer experience, making its outlet something of a leisure destination as opposed to a furniture warehouse. It is also notable for its speed, which sets it apart from other retailers in Slovakia. Many of its products are available for instant pick-up, and it has an equally efficient returns policy which stands out for its fairness; it offers free protection for any goods that have been damaged in transit, or even during the assembly process (as many IKEA products require customers to put them together themselves.)
Slovakia's leading brand for customer experience is the book retailer Martinus, which ranks first for the third year running. Its Time and Effort score is the highest in the country. This is particularly important for Slovakian customers who praised the brand for its delivery speeds.
In addition, Martinus performs well in the pillar of Integrity. It even manages to show Integrity through its website, despite its lack of human interaction. For instance, it offers special discounts whenever it's a person's name day — celebrating once per year on a day associated with one's given name which is widely celebrated in Slovakia. It also sends out birthday greetings with discount codes, and its website has a feature which allows shoppers to round their purchases up and donate the difference to charity.
Such initiatives reflect the growing trend of customer-centricity in Slovakia, with more organizations recognizing the power of good CX. This trend has been growing for a number of years, and it's possible that COVID-19 will accelerate the process as more brands get to grips with a world that has changed considerably since 2019. This will involve intimate customer knowledge, and a desire to experiment and innovate — all the while keeping the consumer at the heart of the CX strategy.
“We have seen CX getting stronger traction over the last couple of years, with companies changing in order to put the customer in the center of their activities. With COVID-19, companies need to again rethink their business models and find ways to connect with customers living in a new reality. Those with an advanced CX approach, and a deep understanding of their customers and their changing needs, will find that they are best prepared to win their hearts and minds, and create long-term, loyal relationships." ”
Head of Advisory
KPMG in Slovakia
DM Drogerie Markt