The power of omnichannel experiences comes to the fore for Mecca. The online beauty brand’s ongoing commitment to customer and employee experience has driven a successful path through the COVID period and set the standards for future growth. Putting the emphasis on customer and employee experience, and more recently, driving a rapid acceleration of digital and personalization capability alongside physical retail expansion, has led to its number one position.
Mecca’s loyalty program Beauty Loop avoids discounts and instead relies on a community of 4.3 million highly engaged customers to share data, which has created a leading customer loyalty and advocacy program. Founder and co-CEO Jo Horgan said: "It has really built a community of phenomenally passionate and engaged beauty customers who share reams of data with us, and that’s enabled us to personalize the experience as this lovely virtuous circle." 1
Taking first place in the rankings in Austria is the optician Fielmann. They stand for eyewear fashion at a fair price. They are Europe’s largest optician. Their user-friendly services shape the company’s history, and ”The customer is you” forms the underlying principle of their customer-oriented corporate philosophy.
Over the last few years, Fielmann has also been improving its digital capabilities by opening an online shop, recognizing the omnichannel needs of the customer of 2021. They hold a strong belief that the future belongs to the omnichannel business model — the connection of personal service and digital technologies.
Online sales of glasses in Fielmann quality has needed a reliable 3D try-on and accurate online measurement technologies in the field of lens fitting and eyesight testing. So far, Fielmann has invested more than US$16 million (more than 15 million euros) in the development of such measurement technologies. With 3D try-on and the advanced lens fitting technology, the two key technologies are market-ready and have been integrated into customer-facing systems at the end of 2020. 2
Coolblue started as a student company in 1999. Today, Coolblue is one of the largest online electronics retailers in the Netherlands and Belgium and has only one goal: ”Making customers smile”. Coolblue has six physical stores in Belgium where they provide customer service, delivery service, installation service and repair service.
The Coolblue slogan ”anything for a smile” is not a hollow marketing phrase. The successful e-commerce company — known especially for its web shop of the same name as well as for being the driving force behind their specialist web shops — is doing everything to give its customers the ultimate online experience.
Because of the large degree of synergy between the virtual and physical stores, it is essential for Coolblue that the two experiences blend seamlessly. 3
Lululemon is a 23-year-old US/Canadian athletic brand, targeting yoga-loving women, and increasingly men and children too. Its success and growth have been impressive with very high retail sales per square foot, strong margins and a diehard fan base that worships the brand, its stores and products alike.
Part of the secret of their in-store formula has been that they don't just sell products. They provide a community, using yoga as the main hook. Every store holds regular events around its neighborhood, such as ”Run, Yoga, Breathe, Laugh,” (RYBL), which showcases local instructors and actively engages people in the brand.
Customers find these make the store environment a place to inspire shoppers, a magnet to feeling good around like-minded people, rather than simply a way to buy cool, high-quality clothes.
Customers are highly motivated, supporting the brand and each other. For instance, if you want a Lululemon product from an outlet store or in an area that the company doesn't ship to, fellow fans or ”Lulu Angels” would go and buy it for you and mail it to
As a home delivery company operating in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Zásilkovna have seen their business expand rapidly because of COVID-19. It has thousands of pickup points, all over the country, where customers can pick up or hand over a package when they are passing by. Zásilkovna prides itself that home deliveries are right on time and that they are cheaper and safer than competitors.
Zásilkovna gauges customer satisfaction through questionnaires, and there is a customer center that handles e-mail and Facebook queries.
Employee satisfaction is a major focus: all employees share in the company’s success. Information is transmitted in the form of weekly e-mail summaries, company newspapers and ’Zásilkovník’, an online magazine displayed on screens at depots. Leaders visit depots to listen to employees at least once per quarter. 5
The highest-ranking brand in France in the 2021 research is the hotel chain Mercure. It is a deeply self-aware organization, closely monitoring its RPS (Reputation Performance Score) and encouraging each of its hotels to perform regular self diagnostics in an effort to pursue continuous improvement. At its heart is a desire for authenticity, locality, and its success is born out of Mercure’s customer obsession
The brand says that ”each and every one of our experienced members of staff is dedicated to providing a service that makes your stay unique,” adding that customers will be “charmed by the warm and convivial welcome of our hoteliers”.
At Mercure, there is a network consisting of more than 800 hotels that are non-standardized. This is being used as an opportunity by having each property showcase local inspiration that truly immerses travelers in the area around them. The program is called “Discover Local”, which highlights local products across the customer
Taking first place in the rankings in Germany is the optician Fielmann, which is one of the most customer-centric companies in the country. Fielmann places a strong emphasis on the education and training of its employees, ensuring that they are fully equipped to meet a wide range of customer needs with minimal hassle. Over the last few years, Fielmann has also been improving its digital capabilities by opening an online shop, recognizing the omnichannel needs of the customer of 2021 and investing in augmented reality developer, Fitting Box. This enables customers to have a 360-degree view, digitally, of how they look wearing different frame types.
Harnessing the integration of digital and offline has been central to their digital approach. For example, when shopping for glasses, customers can select their preferred frames and then use the built-in map to find their nearest store, and book an appointment to have them fitted. 7
Hong Kong (SAR), China
Mandarin Oriental is one of the leading luxury hotel groups in the world and operates 35 luxury hotels and seven residences in 24 countries and territories across the globe, with each property reflecting the brand’s Asian heritage. It has built its brand on service excellence with a stated mission ”to completely delight and satisfy its guests”. 8
It is the only luxury hotel group to have 12 Forbes ’Five-Star’ spas across its global portfolio — more than any other hotel group in the world. 9 This helped the Group firmly establish itself as one of the most elegant and luxurious hotel groups, renowned for offering comfortable and well-appointed accommodation, exceptional facilities and some of the finest restaurants and bars in the region. This is underpinned by impeccable service inspired by its Asian heritage.
Employee experience is critical the company is committed to provide a caring, motivating and rewarding environment for all its employees, through effective training and personal development, enabling a fulfilling career. 10
Garuda Indonesia Airlines
The mission of Garuda as the flag carrier is to promote Indonesia to the international society. The Garuda Indonesia Experience is therefore designed to allow passengers to experience Indonesia at its best. From the moment they make a flight reservation until their arrival at the destination, passengers of Garuda Indonesia are pampered with a sincere and friendly service, the epitome of Indonesian hospitality.
The concept of Garuda Indonesia Experience is based on ’5 senses’ (sight, sound, scent, taste and touch), which includes 24 ’customer touchpoints’, from pre-journey, pre-flight, in-flight, post-flight and post-journey services.
The approach is reflected in the unique Indonesian materials and ornaments used for the interior of the aircraft, the exotic scent of Indonesian flowers, the sound of Indonesian indigenous folk music and the taste of Indonesian traditional food and beverage. The uniform of female cabin crew members symbolizes the experience. It is a modern ’kebaya’ (a traditional Indonesian dress) that is a combination of three colors: tosca represents tropical freshness, orange represents warmth, friendliness and energy, and blue represents reliability and trustworthiness, as well as being lasting and soothing. 11
Leading online retailer
In Italy the service standards of leading online retailers have raised consumer expectations and have made consumers less satisfied when they interact with other retailers.
Increasingly, these companies are enhancing the service experience using advanced digital technology. Self-Service Technologies (SST) have disrupted the ’traditional’ consumer journey by enabling customers to order products online by simply talking or pressing a button, coupled with rapid logistics, where the implementation of same-day delivery services and the 30-day return policy are redefining what is possible.
Tokyo Disney Resort
Despite an extended period of closure, the Tokyo Disney Resort continues to lead the Japan index.
With its personalized approach to customer experience, Disney and its theme parks have created a passionately loyal fan base.
Disney wants to treat every guest like a VIP. Much of that comes from understanding guests and personalizing the experience to meet their needs. Employees pay attention and ask guests about their visit and are encouraged to create one-of-a-kind interactions. Disney collects data to understand guests both as a whole and as individuals. Micro analysis of the guest experience, such as the most common paths between rides, where guests spend the most time and other logistical information, is used to create a more personalized experience. 12
Raiffeisen Bank, Spuerkeess
In Luxembourg this year, we have two brands, both banks, sharing the number one position.
Banque Raiffeisen is a Luxembourgish banking and financial services company. Founded in 1926, it is one of the oldest banks in Luxembourg. The bank is independent from foreign shareholders. It is a member of the International Raiffeisen Union (IRU), which is an association of cooperatives based on the ideas of Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen of co-operative selfhelp, equipping people to be financially independent, so they are able to manage their financial affairs without worry.
Banque Raiffeisen’s ambition is to offer high-quality products and services while building strong and lasting relationships with all its stakeholders, shareholders, customers and partners.
As a mutual it is owned by its members, and value is returned to them through the innovative OPERA scheme. As a member, you can collect OPERA points by working with your bank. The deeper your relationship with the bank the more OPERA points you accumulate. These points can be redeemed against fees or donated to a charity. 13
In 2015 Spuerkeess Bank laid out its 5-year plan to put the customer experience at the center of its development. Now 5 years on that work has been recognized by its customers as it takes joint number one spot with Raiffeisen. It has invested heavily in innovation, in new communication and distribution channels, in modernizing the branch network and employee development, increased its presence on the social networks, offered new remote channels and has extended its range of products and services. It has driven digital innovation and launched an AI-based intelligent assistant to enable its customers to better manage their finances. It is a bank that has a strong and enduring sense of purpose and mission, aiming through its financing activities to improve the economic and social development of the country in all fields.
Its brand positioning, ”Your Bridge to Life”, highlights its role as an enabler between customers and their
PETRONAS provides onshore and offshore gas and petroleum products primarily in Malaysia. It has grown to be Malaysia’s largest petroleum retail network, marketing products to consumers in more than 1,000 PETRONAS stations and 725 Kedai Mesra convenience stores. In addition to petroleum products, their one-stop convenience centers offer dining, shopping, banking, car spa and other services.
The company has tried to find new ways to meet customer needs, for example, Setel is an app to eradicate pain points associated with the refueling process including long queues, the use of physical loyalty cards and 200 Malaysian ringgit (RM) credit card hold. It integrates payment and loyalty benefits into a single application, offering a ’seamless refuel and retail on-the-go experience’. 15
Beyond retail, PETRONAS introduced ROVR, the first mobile refueling service in Malaysia for both commercial and everyday drivers. 16
Holiday Inn was one of the first motel chains, and it prides itself in delivering warm and welcoming experiences. ”At Holiday Inn Hotels and Resorts, our job is to bring the joy of travel to everyone”. It starts with recruitment. ”We look for people who are friendly, welcoming and full of life; people who are always finding ways to make every guest’s experience an enjoyable one.”
It has rooted its strategy in four brand attributes: inclusive, purposeful, social and familiar. It sought to clearly define that the experience is for ’everyday heroes’ — midscale business and leisure travelers who are self-sufficient, unpretentious and sociable.
Holiday Inn Mexico has a well-defined customer experience strategy; it describes the experience that it wants to deliver as: ”We give guests flexible options so they can be themselves. That way, they don’t have to leave the hotel to get what they want. They can find it at the Holiday Inn.” 17
The number one in the Netherlands is a fresh meat and deli retailer, where food is showcased and presented, not just stacked on a shelf. It is the passion for the produce that is evident in every store and every interaction that sets Keurslager apart.
Reputed among its fans as providing high-quality products and great service, it sets new standards in how high street retailers can operate in the new digital reality.
”Our Keurslagerij is our pride. Every day we do our utmost to prepare the best traditional products. Whether it concerns a pure piece of meat, the finest meat products, the tastiest specialties, or the most delicious meals. We always use the freshest ingredients to achieve [the] best quality. You can see and taste our passion for the butcher trade in our products”. 18
They have a strong social sense and see how they can improve the world, for example, by doing good things within the community, such as donations to homeless shelters. 19
S&R stands for Sol and Robert Price, the father and son tandem who founded the Price Club. The chain has 4 branches in Manila — at The Fort, in Alabang, in Baclaran and in Quezon City.
S&R is a membership-shopping club modeled after the warehouse membership shopping chains introduced in the US, for example, Costco and Sam’s Club.
The core concept is to deliver significant value to member-customers through an effective and efficient system anchored on aggressive buying, low-cost distribution and streamlined operations. S&R provides an expansive selection of imported and local items in value-packed sizes to cater for both personal and business needs.
It describes itself as offering an ”incomparable shopping excitement that just won’t stop”. It's the freshness of its produce that appeals to customers alongside the interest and excitement of finding new products on each visit. 20
The popular online marketplaces to trade your goods in most European countries include eBay and Amazon. However, the same platforms are not likely to bring you the desired sales if you are in Poland. Why? People from Poland prefer Allegro to these platforms, as their favorite online marketplace to get the items they want.
And with over 21 million registered users and 17 million visiting customers every month on Allegro.pl, it has managed to hold a significant position in Poland. Customers buy over 1.2 million products every day, of which over 95 percent are new items, sold at a fixed price, with a warranty and insurance. It operates a marketplace model, which means that customers can buy whatever they need from over 125,000 merchants, who can list an unlimited number of offers on its platform. 21
It started life as an auction site for hobbyists and it has evolved into the most popular e-commerce platform. Allegro currently employs over 2,100 people, nearly half of whom are top-class experts in technology. In a market survey in 2019, 80 percent of Polish shoppers described Allegro as their favorite shopping platform.
Farmacia Tei.ro is a new entrant in the report this year. Founded in 1992, this local pharmacy gradually found a niche in the market, offering a large assortment of products (today selling over 20,000 brands – ranging from medicine to cosmetics and organic supplements) at affordable prices. 22
Their pricing strategy, based on volumes and small margins, propelled them to the top of this year’s ranking, where consumers viewed their products as “correctly priced”. Farmacia Tei.ro has a strong digital presence and an online store which is closer to the traditional e-commerce models found in other industries, a clear differentiator from the other pharmacies ranked in this year’s research.
The online store is deemed easy to navigate, giving access to customized offers, thematic weeks with product discounts, and even Black Friday campaigns. This helped them during the pandemic where online sales almost doubled compared to 2019, from 10 percent to 18 percent of the total business. 23
ALBAIK is a fast-food outlet famed for its produce and service. The ALBAIK story began in 1974 in the city of Jeddah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia when the late Shakour AbuGhazalah saw there was a need for high-quality affordable food, served fast and courteously, in a clean and inviting environment. That vision, that hasn’t changed since, is: ”to give pleasure and nourishment to our customers through our food and service. When we see the expressions of pleasure from our satisfied customers, we feel that we’ve achieved our goals”
It says that all of its efforts, ”our development, creating the perfect recipes, the building of food production facilities, team training, team development, formulating and deploying operational guidelines and protocols, putting our team members on a carefully developed career path, implementing strict and diligent quality assurance levels, taking part in forums and exhibitions to learn and constantly improve, conducting research and studies into the latest technologies and methodologies, always listening to our customers, giving back to the community”, are all in service of its customers. 24
Singapore Airlines has looked to technology to improve its customers’ journeys in the last few years. In 2018, the airline launched a digital innovation blueprint, looking to progress its digital capabilities with the promise of enhancing its service culture. In June 2021, they became the first airline to offer live online shopping on board. Customers will be able to choose from more than 4,000 products across a range of categories including exclusive airline merchandise, beauty products, fragrances, electronics and liquor. They will enjoy duty-free prices on orders that are delivered on their next Singapore Airlines flight or choose to have their purchases delivered directly to their homes 25,26
A book on computer programming changed Michal Meško’s life. It turned him into a computer fanatic and into the co-founder of what is today Slovakia’s best online bookshop. 27
”Doing business should not just be about the money”, says Michal. ”We want to sell stories. Any book that sells online can have the same positive impact on someone as that programming book had on me.”
The excellent reputation of the website has helped ensure immediate success for Martinus’s most recent project: a series of modern, welcoming cafés where everyone can expect the same quality of service with readings, debates and book signings. The virtual and real worlds co-exist in perfect harmony.
Independent brick-and-mortar bookstores may be struggling globally, but despite the blip with COVID-19, Martinus is reversing the trend. Martinus has built the country’s leading online book retailer while expanding sales from physical bookstores. Driven by a vision to ”connect people with books, so they can grow the good in them,” they have leveraged different channels and customer touchpoints in a holistic business model that has withstood the struggles faced by most independent bookstores. 28
Leading online retailer
This retailer has been on the forefront of several innovations in terms of its logistics operation, with a whole host of options designed to make getting products from their warehouse to the doorstep with minimal effort on the user’s part.
The common denominator here is minimizing effort — whether buying or returning a product, the experience is effortless — something customers are more than willing to give their loyalty for in exchange.
AI is playing a greater role, for example, intelligent products. More than a way to shop, these tools can assist in playing music, setting alarms, providing news updates and controlling networked smart devices. Like many of their products, the goal of these tools is to help make daily tasks easier and to learn to provide better suggestions while doing it.
Innovation is critically important, for example, when looking for a tool to naturally guide conversations to the best outcome for the customer.
FWD has achieved the top spot in this year’s Thai rankings. Their vision is to change the way people feel about insurance by committing to delivering the very best customer experience they can, at all points of contact, through; easy to read contracts – with full disclosure while removing the small print, innovative products - investing in ideas, inspired by their customers and a straightforward approach to claims - with speed, ease, and convenience. 29
Earlier this year, FWD launched “Celebrate Living“, a unique brand campaign which uses a “musicumentary” (a musical documentary) to communicate the company’s philosophy “to let people live life to the fullest, worry-free, with the company by their side to help take care of the rest”. This followed an extensive market research campaign focused on the "celebration of living" and the definition of “what makes customers happy?”, providing rich insights into the lifestyles of its target customers, and what really matters to them.
With a leadership team that is driving significant investment in digital transformation under a multi-year program to build the insurer of the future, FWD Thailand continues to evolve to meet the changing demands of the modern Thai customer. 30
Managing through the rigors of COVID-19, Starling Bank has risen to the top of the UK index. The digital-only bank has a clear goal to put customers in control of their money and data, such as extra safe login and blocking payments. 31
Customer is the center of their world, according to Anne Boden, CEO and Founder of Starling: "Our goal has always been giving our customers the bank they tell us that they want and one which puts them in control of their money and their data. We know exactly what our customers want because they tell us every day." 32
They also provided blog posts, news and updates to help small business and personal customers during COVID-19. 33
United States of America
What does it take to be the best year after year? USAA, the banking and insurance company for military members and their families, seems to have the answers as they consistently lead our US index year after year.
USAA’s Net Promoter Score is more than double the industry average (USAA 61, industry average 26) in our study, and its customer satisfaction scores are leagues ahead of the competition. Customers are loyal and more likely to stick with the company and get additional financial products than customers at other companies. USAA’s dedication to customer experience and serving each person individually keeps customers coming back and singing its praises.
USAA declares that when you join USAA, that ”you become part of a family who stands by you during every stage of your life.” Employees and customers are on the same team working towards the same purpose: to help customers reach their financial goals. The attitude of being part of a family changes the interactions between customers and employees. Instead of trying to upsell new products, employees understand each individual and work with them to help them meet their goals. 34
The insurance industry is shifting to a more digital model due to the role of technology in business activities. FWD Vietnam has followed the FWD tradition of innovation, developing virtual assistant technology to optimize operations, thereby improving the quality of the customer experience.
In fact, FWD is one of the first insurance enterprises in Vietnam to apply AI to customer technology with Kooki, a technology assistant to support its customer service call center. The Kooki Technology Assistant can make automatic calls, including natural two-way interaction with gender and region-specific voice-overs to explain insurance contracts, time and methods of payment, payment status, etc.
AI also powers its operational technology enabling internal users to optimize pricing and risk assessment, delivering a much more rapid service to individual customers. 35
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