Customer Experience Excellence report 2021

Customer Experience Excellence report 2021

In a market where consumers are naturally cautious, COVID-19 presented a challenge for brands. Those who adapted to provide safe interactions that put customers in control of their experience performed well in our rankings. Cost is another important consideration in Romania, with brands offering cost-effective products and services receiving positive scores. Meanwhile, Personalization and Integrity continue to be the main drivers of Loyalty and Advocacy, with trust paramount to success.

This price sensitivity, driven by economic uncertainty, was exacerbated by COVID-19 as global prices rose – creating a competitive market that put budget-friendly brands on the front foot. Farmacia Tei and 5 to go, the top two ranked brands on the market, both benefited by combining fair prices with a wide product ranges and customizable offers.

The pharmacy Farmacia Tei entered the rankings this year in first place. It is a “value for money” pharmacy1 that offers a large range of products at affordable prices, further supporting the insight that value is a key driver for this year’s report. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, offering personalized advice to suit the customer’s preferences. Its strong digital presence and online store set it apart from other pharmacies included in our study, with customized offers, product discounts and even Black Friday deals.

The coffeehouse chain 5 to go was only established in 2015 but has seen accelerated growth despite COVID-19, with 90 new locations opening in 2020 – making it the largest coffee shop chain in Eastern Europe2. 5 to go’s simple pricing structure – basic coffee and baked goods priced at 5 RON (approximately 1 Euro)3 – personalized coffee to suit a customer’s taste and close attention to market trends placed it second in our rankings.

The brand’s strong performance certainly played a role in pushing the restaurant and fast-food sector to the top spot. Organizations in this industry registered the highest growth for Integrity and Time & Effort as they adapted to the new reality of trading during a pandemic. McDonald’s climbed 25 places after moving quickly to provide a safe environment for those who wish to dine in and partnering with local food delivery services. Investing in digital self-service kiosks also won over customers looking for contactless interaction.

While IKEA fell to 27th place in 2020 with as its stores were forced to close, it re-joined the top 10 and ranked fifth this year. While this bounce back can in some way be attributed to the ease of restrictions, IKEA’s upgraded website and new drive-in click and collect service helped to lower delivery costs and protect the safety of staff and shoppers, attracting more customers4. Additionally, its recycle service, which allows customers to trade-in second hand IKEA products in exchange for a voucher, plays to the market’s budget-conscious consumer base5.

The pressure to digitalize will likely be a growing challenge for brands going forward, with some organizations finding it difficult to make the switch. This is particularly true in the financial services sector where several banks are still unable to offer fully digital tools for everyday transactions. This fundamental change in the market could disrupt traditional business models and push companies to continually identify new products and services to keep pace with market trends and customer needs.

The key words to describe this year’s Romanian CEE analysis are ‘value for money’. The pandemic has influenced many customer behavioral aspects, including an increased attention to spending patterns. Many brands have reacted to this change and designed products/services and related interactions to deliver the best value possible, as they were battling for a lower share of wallet. This has a huge potential to disrupt traditional models, especially for those brands that do not offer excellent customer experience.

Victor Iancu
Customer Advisory Lead
KPMG in Romania


Leading CX brands in Romania



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