Customer Experience Excellence report 2021

Customer Experience Excellence report 2021

During COVID-19, consumer priorities shifted and trust became an even more crucial factor in their relationships with brands. In a climate of constant uncertainty, customers have shown loyalty to businesses that have put showing care and compassion for people above their profits.

As expected, we’re now seeing this trend remain even as some of the effects of COVID-19 start to ease. While Personalization has always been a key factor in the Italian consumer experience, Integrity has gradually gained greater levels of importance.

People want to buy from brands whose values match theirs, and interest in sustainability efforts, how companies treat their employees and whether they keep their customers safe is high. This extends to personal data protection.

However, the drive for fast, smart and simple shopping experiences also continues. The recent shift towards digital has further raised the expectations of customers who are now used to accessing products and services in the click of a button, and being able to select the ideal place and time to receive them.

As in our 2020 study, grocery retail is the sector with the best Customer Experience performance.  Safety is still a primary concern, with consumers valuing the cleanliness of stores, as well as the speedy online shopping opportunities now more readily available in this sector.

For the third year in a row, Esselunga was ranked in the top 10 brands. The chain donated 2.5 million euros (EUR) to hospitals last year1, and also waived home delivery fees for over-65s between March and June 20202. This care for their customers has certainly been noticed and appreciated, alongside its generous loyalty card system.

Climbing a huge 46 places to be this year’s eighth highest ranking brand for Italy is financial services company, UnipolSai. It saw an improvement across Expectation, Integrity and Resolution particularly. With fast refunds, accurate and reliable case assistance, and streamlined online processes, the brand has impressed across the board. Of particular note was the free COVID-19 risk policy, which UnipolSai took out for its 10 million customers.

Also in the top five for the fifth year in row, Apple Store’s strengths are Expectation and Integrity even though it has competitive scores on all pillars. Customers particularly appreciate the expert staff assistance in-store from ‘Geniuses’, the simplicity of online purchases and the feel the stores have of being tourist attractions to visit across the world.

One customer said: "Everyone working in Apple Store can walk in their customers’ shoes. Extraordinary customer service, fantastic. And I have had the opportunity during my travels to visit Apple Stores around the world, and you get the same sublime treatment everywhere. "

Meanwhile, Swarovski scores highly on Personalization and Integrity. Consumers praise their wide and varied product range and pleasant shopping experience in-store. The brand is also perceived as synonymous with quality and elegance, yet also offering good value for money.

Italian consumers are extremely sensitive to price, and this is the most important factor in their decision-making. This increased focus is largely attributable to last year's economic crisis, with Italy’s business ecosystem deeply affected by the slowdown across many industries.

Looking ahead, this will likely be an important consideration for brands as the recovery continue. They must meet the challenge of offering value for money while continuing to invest in personalized experiences, and showing that they care about the world and the values of their customers.

The pandemic has caused a radical change in consumer habits. As expected, some consumer trends that emerged during COVID-19 are destined to remain beyond it. And it is certainly clear that digital technologies, which have entered our daily lives in a disruptive way, will be increasingly essential. So, brands that want to achieve excellence should undergo a digital transformation to enhance their consumer experience.

Paolo Capaccioni
Partner, KPMG Advisory Management Consulting
KPMG in Italy


Leading CX brands in Italy


Leading online retailer


Apple Store






MAC Cosmetics


Fineco Bank






Giorgio Armani