Customer Experience thrives on digital transformation in the new reality

Business, Marketing, Studies

The 2020 edition of the KPMG Customer Experience Excellence Report developed by KPMG and based on a study conducted at the height of the lockdown in 27 countries and regions, including Romania, uncovers a shift in values and behavior, as customers become increasingly vulnerable and less in control than ever before, resulting in a fundamental transformation in how people interact with brands.

This year’s Customer Experience Champion is an international bank well known for its digital experiences. There are four Romanian brands in the top 10 CX report, as many sectors have seized the opportunity to quickly react to this new reality and upped their game to deliver better, more adapted and consistent customer experiences. Others, however, were woefully ill-prepared for the sudden changes, and were unable to maintain their customer relationships during the pandemic. The following brands have made their way to this year’s Top 10:

  1. ING Bank
  2. Carturesti
  3. Decathlon
  4. Dedeman
  5. Netflix
  6. Revolut
  7. eMAG
  8. Zara
  9. H&M
  10. Banca Transilvania

This COVID-19 health crisis gave rise to the “New Customer”, who is feeling financially constrained, is looking for touchless experiences and is more prudent in the decision-making process, giving preference to brands they trust. To succeed – possibly even to survive – in this new reality, organizations will need to be more connected, more digital and more customer-centric than ever before.

During these deeply unsettling times, customers have increasingly turned to brands that reflect their core values, such as safety and security. That’s why it is more crucial now than ever for brands to focus on providing solutions to real customers’ problems.

“Our research carried out this year in 27 countries and regions, including Romania, found that, globally, consumers believe they will be living their lives very differently for the foreseeable future. They expect the brands they have to interact with – digitally or, as lockdown fades out, physically – to deliver better, safer, and more seamless experiences at a lower cost,” explains Ramona Jurubiță, Managing Partner, KPMG in Romania.

The New Business Reality

A powerful insight coming from our research this year is that some companies in Romania were able to adapt much more quickly to the crisis, thanks to their digital drive, agility and customer focus. They were ready to serve their customers in many different ways and did not compromise the relationship with them. These are the brands that are winning in the competitive game, and are creating a stronger bond with their customers during these uncertain times. These CX champions are already using this crisis as a means of reinventing their businesses to accelerate transformation programs and embrace new ways of working.

In this year’s customer survey we have found that 43% of the surveyed companies did not get enough responses to qualify for our methodological assessment, as they did not obtain a minimum of 100 customer evaluations, clearly showing how drastically interaction with customers has changed in the recent period. These brands were woefully ill-prepared to the sudden changes, and they were unable to maintain their customer relationships. Customer experience, therefore, has become crucial in the business environment, as companies need to better understand the shift in needs and behaviors on the market and quickly adapt to them.

Key Insights

This year’s report captures the dynamic shift on the Romanian market, as the New Customers reevaluate the importance of various sectors in the new reality:

  • The new #1 CX Champion this year achieved its highest pillar score in Time and Effort, as it offers a number of digital services which are designed to save time for the consumer. It outperformed the entire market by a significant margin across all six of the KPMG Pillars, showing the importance of actively responding to the needs of the new customer.
  • The Non-Grocery Retail sector has maintained its leadership position. Given the high competition in the sector, brands had to truly leverage their digital capabilities and invest more heavily in customer experience management. Thanks to these investments, the leaders in this sector were able to navigate this uncertain period and help to establish this sector as the most customer focused in Romania.
  • In these uncertain times, Integrity remains the core element that drives customer experience. Its significance as the number one Pillar is evident now more than ever, as customers are looking for brands that put safety and trust first. Brands should further invest in initiatives that support the Integrity Pillar, thus being able to build a trustworthy relationship with their customers.
  • At the height of the pandemic, the Logistics sector saw the highest increase in the CEE score. The whole sector was able to successfully position itself through reliable services, thus allowing logistics companies to become a true partner for customers, rather than anonymous providers.
  • Over 50% of the surveyed brands in the Financial Services Sector did not get enough responses to be ranked in the report this year, the highest of all sectors surveyed. This finding highlights the need for many companies in this sector to refocus their efforts on rebuilding their customer relationships and accelerate their digital initiatives.
  • The Utilities sector came last in the Report, as in the previous year, although the brands within this sector have all made significant improvements. Utility companies should further develop their customer experience and align it with the rest of the Romanian market, thus paving the way for the whole sector to improve overall and move up from last place in the near future.

Looking ahead, the biggest challenge for Romanian brands is remaining relevant, adaptable and customer focused. With COVID-19 driving many consumers online, organizations need to be ready and available to quickly respond to unforeseeable changes in customer behavior.

In order for them to survive, all businesses have to focus on readjusting and re-evaluating their customer strategies and realigning their organizations to ensure they meet their “New Reality” customers’ needs. This will require companies to generate insights through a deep and thorough (re)assessment of the customer base (including customer research, segmentation, customer journeys, etc.) in order to develop integrated, seamless experiences that will ensure that they can adapt and thrive in the new reality.

“Due to the COVID-19 crisis, we are witnessing a global psychological shift in values, beliefs and needs. Customers feel more vulnerable, less secure and less in control than ever before. They are financially constrained, look for touchless experiences and are more careful in their decision-making, giving preference to brands they trust,” says Victor Iancu, Customer Advisory Lead, KPMG in Romania

In this complex context, the KPMG Six Pillars of customer experience are more relevant than ever, as they define excellence in both customer and employee experience excellence. They show business leaders specifically what they need to create in order to compete for the New Customer.

The 2020 Romania Customer Experience Excellence research was conducted via an online survey methodology between 3 April and 28 April 2020. Over 2,500 customers were asked to evaluate 136 brands. At the core of our research are the Six Pillars of experience excellence: Empathy, Personalization, Time & Effort, Expectations, Resolution, Integrity. They are inextricably intertwined and, in combination, provide a powerful mechanism to help organizations understand how well their customer experience is delivered across channels, industries and company types.

KPMG is a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 147 countries and territories and have 219,000 people working in member firms around the world. KPMG in Romania operates from six offices located in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Constanta, Iasi, Timisoara and Chişinău (Republic of Moldova). We currently employ more than 800 professionals, both Romanian and expatriates.

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