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Customer experience design is evolving. A few years ago, its main focus was on cost and convenience, with customer experiences being shaped around competitively-priced products or services, provided by respectable brand names. There was a strong sense of ‘educating’ the customer, of letting them know how a low-cost item or company could possibly enhance their life. The Co-operative, for example, reassured shoppers that it was “good with food,” whilst another supermarket chain adopted the famous “that’s Asda price” slogan, juxtaposed with contented customers patting the loose change in their pockets. These corporate catchphrases were strong, and arguably effective; they gave shoppers good, credible reasons to become loyal to a brand.

For emerging retailers such as the German supermarket Lidl, one of its strongest selling points was that it could considerably reduce customers’ shopping bills, and this proposition was particularly attractive during the recession of the late 2000s. However, as the economy began to grow, and shoppers found themselves with a little more disposable income, it became increasingly difficult for brands to shape their customer experience design around price tags alone. Shoppers required stronger reasons to remain loyal to a company, particularly with new competitive entrants to the market and the increase in online purchasing e.g. A.O.com.

Today’s customers live fast-paced lives

One of these reasons came in the form of an altogether more precious commodity – time. In 2015, customers are living fast-paced lives, and often prefer things to be fast, simple and straightforward, particularly when they engage with a bank, or do their weekly shop. Indeed, a survey carried out by the British Council indicated that people around the world were moving 10 per cent faster than they used to, spurred on by the rise of technology and the growing need for immediacy in their interactions. And technology has grown significantly in the last eight years, which would go some way to explaining why the pillar of Time and Effort has risen to such prominence in the 2015 CEE. The customers’ burning desire for instant fulfilment has been recognised by some of the strongest UK companies, and they have sought to deliver it. More importantly, they have used the asset of a swift, seamless customer experience as one of their main selling points.

Responding to customers individual needs

Moreover, the design of the customer experience now puts a greater focus on Personalisation. The most successful brands in the 2015 CEE achieved some of their highest scores in this pillar, highlighting the growth of the more ‘individualised’ approach to customer experience management. For brands such as Waitrose, the sense of a more personalised customer experience design is now at the forefront of its ‘branding.’ Its latest campaign tells customers: “We think the best person to pick offers for you is you.” Instead of directing shoppers towards that month’s savings – as part of thinly-disguised promotional drives – Waitrose now allows customers to shape the retail experience for themselves. This ‘Pick Your Own Offers’ initiative enables shoppers to select 10 items from a list of branded and own-label products and receive a 20 per cent discount each time they buy them, regardless of whether the transaction takes place in store or on the web. And whilst ‘competitive pricing’ is an undoubted element of this latest approach, it is the emphasis that has shifted; Waitrose has tried to position itself alongside the customer, demonstrating that it is not just a good company to shop with, but it is also one that cares about the individual.

Vicky Smith, Head of Qualitative Research at KPMG Nunwood says “customer experience design has risen to a significant level of importance. Customers are increasingly discerning, and they are savvy enough to know when a company is simply looking to make a profit, with little consideration for their lifestyle or well-being. As such, they now expect outstanding experiences when they interact with a brand.”

For more customer experience insight visit the KPMG Nunwood CEM blog.

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