Customer Experience Excellence report 2021

Customer Experience Excellence report 2021

As most customers had to largely give up their onsite retail therapy across Austria in 2020, the need for top-level experiences from retailers that were open rose exponentially. And in Austria, grocery retailers were up to the challenge. This year, grocery retail tops the rankings as the leading sector for customer experience.

All physical stores which allowed in-person shopping had to adapt to the new ways of operating very quickly. Heightened hygiene practices, social distancing measures and customer number caps all had to be put in place to make grocery shopping a safe and secure experience. As grocery stores were some of the only places Austrian customers could visit, grocery shopping became a highlight for many customers, and a real “treat” experience. Many customers began enjoying the experience of preparing home-cooked meals too, which meant their grocery shopping was directly tied to positive experiences during COVID-19.

Interestingly, the top-ranking brand of this year’s customer experience survey is Fielmann, an optician. Of course, customers have needed their optical health cared for throughout COVID-19, and as a new entry to the rankings, Fielmann has taken the top spot having scored high in Personalization and Empathy. Customers have demanded personalized experiences from brands for many years, but more-so during COVID-19, as customers needed their individual and collective safety needs to be a big part of the personalization process.

Managing in-store customers via a digital booking platform, as well as providing free eye tests and a free glasses cleaning service , have been three key offerings for Fielmann customers over 2021, along with the “first-class” advice and service from in-store colleagues. One customer described how "the employees are very competent, give first-class advice and take their time for the customer."

The Austrian automobile, motorcycle and touring club (ÖAMTC) took the top-ranking spot for the previous three years and has ended in second place this year. This may be surprising, as COVID-19 has kept many of us at home over the past year during various lockdowns. But despite travel restrictions, customers and club members have remained loyal to ÖAMTC, as it scores high for Expectations and Integrity. On its website, ÖAMTC has a library of COVID-19 resources for club members, including up-to-date travel advice from the government . Its dedication to keeping club members informed and advised is a key driver of its high ranking and its high score for Integrity.

Although non-grocery retail took a hit over the past year, third place in the rankings is occupied by Marionnaud, a beauty retailer. As a business with a strong digital presence, Marionnaud was primed to offer exclusive online services when COVID-19 hit. Austrian customers found that Marionnaud scored high for Time & Effort, creating a seamless online shopping experience for Austrian customers stuck at home.

This year’s survey has seen no change in the top drivers of loyalty and advocacy. Loyalty is driven by Personalization, whereas advocacy is driven by Integrity. Customers are increasingly conscious of what businesses stand for, and how their social efforts will help to better society locally and globally. They are more likely to recommend a brand that they see as socially and environmentally conscious. However, it’s personalized experiences that can keep them coming back to purchase products and services again – if they know they have individual service, they feel valued and have an all-round more pleasant experience.

As the Austrian market moves ahead, meeting customer needs in various ways seems to be the main challenge for brands and businesses. Understanding customers’ needs in both the digital and physical world is key to getting this right – brands need to get to grips with customer data. Many companies have done their basic CX-homework well (formed personas, mapped customer journeys and carried out initial customer surveys, as well as adjusted customer segments due to the digitization surge). Many firms are now asking themselves the question: How do we manage to continuously record customer voices? And how do we derive improvements for the experience – or even innovations – from this?

During turbulent times customers discovered the joy of feeling secure and personally catered to. They especially valued brands that were reliable. The current challenge is to design products and services accustomed to the emerging post-pandemic world. Companies now need to develop new competencies and add explorative prototyping to evidence-based design to uncover latent needs.

Werner Girth
Partner, Advisory
KPMG Austria

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