COVID-19 changed the face of customer experience in Taiwan. Footfall fell at non-grocery retailers, and the government issued shopping vouchers to encourage domestic spending. In addition, customers started to demand a wider range of payment options, and while many organizations provided these, they didn't always have the most efficient systems to switch between different payment methods.
However, for grocery retail, COVID-19 was a catalyst. Many organizations embraced the fresh challenges and redesigned their services, aiming to make them quicker and more personalized.
Brands such as 7-Eleven and Family Mart were instrumental in this, recognizing that people's needs had suddenly become more diverse. With customers staying away from certain shops at the height of COVID-19, these brands began offering new services. POS machines were available to sell public transport and concert tickets, and the brands also set up services that allowed people to collect parcels they had ordered online.
There was a sudden surge in dependency from consumers, and a less able sector could have buckled under the strain of this increased demand — particularly in Taiwan, where convenience stores are typically closer to people's homes than the bigger department stores. People were limiting their travel, and looking to companies like 7-Eleven to become 'one stop shops.'
This was a challenge that PX Mart rose to, and the retailer ranks at number three in this year's study. During the COVID-19 period, PX Mart went to great lengths to earn its customers' trust.
Face masks were readily available in all of its stores, which the brand wrapped in special 'dust free' packets, paying particular attention to hygiene and safety.
Despite this, it's clear that PX Mart is a customer-centric brand regardless of COVID-19. Its strongest pillar score is in Personalization — the pillar that is key in driving customer advocacy in Taiwan. But it also performs well in the pillar of Time and Effort, and it is the most 'accessible' grocery retailer, with its 1,000+ stores being within reach of 80 percent of Taiwanese families. Inside, customers are usually1 able to complete their transactions speedily as well, with its PX Pay platform (and smartphone app) greatly shortening the checkout process.
Speed is also an important factor for Taiwan's second highest ranking brand — the restaurant chain Din Tai Fung. Its smartphone app allows customers to book their tables ahead of time and receive a notification when it's ready, meaning they don't have to queue at the restaurant — a feature that also helped with social distancing at the height of COVID-19.
Din Tai Fung is notable for its high pillar scores in Integrity and Empathy. For example, the brand is particularly conscious of people's dining speeds; it recognizes that it can be unpleasant to feel 'rushed' during a meal, and always serves at the same rate as customers' dining speeds, regardless of the cost implications.
As one person observed: "The food is very delicate, and the service makes people feel like home… The menu may seem home-styled, but I can taste their sincerity."
This sincerity is echoed in Taiwan's customer experience leader — the financial services organization Richart. Like Din Tai Fung, Richart cares passionately about its customers. In fact, it was originally launched by Taishin Bank with the express purpose of providing the best financial customer experience through mobile banking. It's no surprise, therefore, that its Time and Effort score is 7 percent ahead of the market average in 2020, fuelled by a smartphone application that allows users to send money to friends and families using just a phone number, amongst other things.
But Personalization is Richart's strongest pillar — a quality the brand exudes across many touchpoints. For instance, its dog mascot resembles a child's drawing, evoking a sense of playfulness and simplicity while helping to humanize the organization. Via its smartphone app, users can even invest in Richart's stock market portfolio, a process which the brand has designed to act like a mobile game — one that is fun, and easy for beginners.
These digital considerations are becoming more important across Taiwan. For example, the most
popular social media platform — Line — is connected to a number of brands. Users can receive discounts or earn Line points whenever they make purchases through the app, and they can also use it to recommend products and services to their friends. Undoubtedly, this platform has had a positive impact on the world of customer experience as a whole. But it has also created some problems. Many Taiwanese customers are suffering from 'information overload' and have started to block out online advertisements on social media platforms.
The challenge for brands in Taiwan is now to curate content through personalization, rather than volume, all-the-while remaining conscious of the privacy concerns connected with big data.
Arguably, this is a problem globally, but there's a particular emphasis on it in Taiwan, with over half of surveyed customers saying that they have purchased products they did not intend to buy, as a result of receiving a personalized recommendation. In fact, Facebook's user activity saw a marked decrease in Taiwan following reports of a big data leak.
Organizations must now work hard to earn their customers' trust, and prove that they are operating with their best interests at heart.
“A digital world with a vast amount of options to customers is already the new reality in Taiwan. Brands only have a few seconds to capture customer attention. The key to unlocking future customer loyalty is through the right use of data, curated content, and immersing the brand in the customer journey." ”
Partner, Advisory Services
KPMG in Taiwan
Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐)