Which companies are the role models in the field of customer experience?
Each company stands before the challenge, enticing its customers to become re-buyers and promoters of their brands. This is essential in today's, competitive market. Emerging strong forces such as new technologies (automation, AI, and robotics), increasing cyber risks, or consumer value change are affecting every industry and adding to the competitive momentum. Customer experienceis a global trend as customer expectations from companieshas grown steadily, and the differentiation with personalized customer experiences has almost become an essential competitive advantage. Customers want to know that they are vital to the company, and they demand solutions for their needs. They expect companies to communicate with them continuously through all channels (omnichannel).
The following examples underline the importance of customer experience for entrepreneurial growth and sustainable success. Best Buy and Starbucks have lost ground for a while and would have probably disappeared from the market had they not established an exzellent customer experience.
Best Buy is an American company that sells electronics, computers, games, and appliances. In the US alone, it operates around 1,380 stores. Seven years ago, there were indications that the company won't last for long. Amazon's successful business model overtook the industry, and Best Buy was threatened to lose grounds. In 2012, Best Buy published its turnaround plan. It focused on its key stakeholders and prioritized their processing as follows:
- a) customers
- b) employees
- c) partners
- d) shareholders
In the first step, Bust Buy adjusted its prices to those of Amazon to become competitive. After that, the company focused on customer experience. They redesigned the website and invested in market research. Their delivery processes were streamlined to get the same shipping speed as Amazon, but without the shipping cost surcharges. When implemented, the company focused on optimizing in-store experiences and on its employees. Next, they selected innovative, technological companies to become their partners. The company wanted to stay ahead of its competition to gain customer attention.
The turnaround was successful. The company made the transformation from being sales-driven to becoming a "customer-obsessed" organization. The cost of their transformation process was \$2 billion. Today, the company is well prepared again: It has more than doubled its online sales since 2012. The company says that it serves its customers in a way that truly solves their specific problems.
The imperative is to make money but it’s not the purpose. In our case, the purpose is to enrich lives through technology. How you orchestrate at scale makes it a privilege to work at Best Buy.
Starbucks was struck during the 2008 financial crisis. During that adverse climate, former CEO Howard Schultz rethought his board mandates to the company. He realized that success is unsustainable when defined by the number of branches opened. He decided that the only numbers that matter are the cups of coffee, the customers, the partners, and the customer experience. The company had to return to basics for survival.
For this reason, Howard Schultz closed 7,100 branches in one day to brew the perfect coffee. The company lost \$6 million on that day. The press speculated that the company would soon cease to exist. Before, the focus has been on revenue growth. Schultz directed it rigorously to customer experience. He went so far as to tell his store managers to forget about sales figures. The only thing that counts are satisfied customers.
Starbucks started communicating directly with its customers via Twitter and Facebook. It launched its own portal, MyStarbucksIdea.com. Customers were invited to this portal to share their ideas, wishes, and needs, on how they want to experience the brand. Of the more than 90,000 ideas, more than 100 were implemented.
Six hundred branches had to be closed in the US alone to make the turnaround. The operating costs were permanently reduced by 580 million. The sales figures continued to fall. Nevertheless, Schultz continued to invest in customer experience in 2009.
In the third quarter of 2009, sales started to increase slightly. Customer surveys showed that customers happily welcomed the "new" Starbucks. Customer engagement and loyalty increased. Starbucks was hailed by its customers on social media - at the end of 2009, the Facebook page was one of the most popular pages in the history of social media. From then on, the company was once again on the path to success - together with its customers.
Changi Airport Singapore
Changi Airport in Singapore is a true temple of aviation and has won several awards as the best airport in the world. The airport is continuously launching new initiatives to offer its passengers stress-free, personalized, and positive experiences. Customer focus is lived throughout the airport. There are interactive feedback touchscreens everywhere. Travelers are continuously asked about their impressions and experience at the airport. The data is used to respond immediately to errors, monitor development through gaps in performance, and increase employee productivity and customer focus.
For example, the sanitary facilities are monitored and improved in real-time that even going to the bathroom results in a positive experience. For this purpose, touchscreens are installed at the exits. Guests rate their toilet experience before leaving. If the rating is below "satisfactory", guests are asked to specify where the shortcoming is. This alerts in real-time the responsible cleaner, who would immediately fix the shortcoming condition.
Service is the backbone of our business, and we see every customer touchpoint within the airport as an opportunity to deliver the Changi Experience. We aim to provide a delightful airport experience that is made possible through constant innovation and taking to heart the feedback from our passengers and visitors.
Changi Airport exemplifies customer-centricity and how customer experience is honored and measured and immediately translated into optimizations.