A man came to my door with a hat in his hand and a smile on his face. He wished me a happy birthday and handed me a fresh basil plant. He was the driver who had come to our house just 15 minutes before to bring the food we had ordered online – he had forgotten to give me the basil. He had kept the fresh herbs in the passenger seat to save them from shrivelling up in the refrigerated part of the van where the rest of the food is kept.
The driver's smile, the glint in his eye (it was not my birthday) and the smell of the basil had me enchanted.
The customer experience is an instrumental factor in choosing a store. Experience is often linked to feelings, and it is affected by every touchpoint where customers encounter the brand. Stores need to internalise this and act accordingly. Strategy along is not enough – actions are decisive. Actions that benefit customers.
Customers are capable of making increasingly analytical purchasing decisions, and customers' experiences spread over the internet in seconds. Successful stores must ensure the transparency of their product selections, pricing and availability. The origin and sustainability of products and the quality and healthiness of food are becoming more common selection criteria. Information must be given to customers. It is no longer the exclusive domain of stores to compare or classify products and services – customers are also doing this.
Data is involved in everything. Customers have access to more information than ever before. And so do stores! The store that is able to utilise data to genuinely understand and address customer needs will be the winner. This may mean that the customer's everyday life becomes easier: I get an extra hour with my family when my shopping is brought right to my door at 5:15pm sharp (not between 4pm and 7pm) or a (gluten-free) menu perfectly suited to my needs is recommended for an important party or the OmaKuski service collects my car for servicing and brings it straight back to my workplace afterwards (free of charge!).
One or two failures along the way are not the end of the world. Even an unsuccessful customer experience can be turned on its head. I hope the same driver brings my shopping again next week. I will put coriander on the shopping list just in case.
Minna Vakkilainen, VP, Head of Analytics and Customer Data, K Digital
Webshops are a lifesaver for me. Our family consists of two children, aged four and six, who both have hobbies and busy working parents, so we prefer to spend what little free time we have on something else than shopping.
We lived abroad for about four years. While we were there, we learned to do our grocery shopping online. After cautious testing, we were convinced that this was the shopping experience we had really been waiting for: instead of dragging a defiant child to a shop on a Thursday night, just like hundreds of other parents, I could sit on the sofa and do my shopping on an iPad. The next day, a polite driver carried bags into our hall – and we parents saved at least an hour for, say, exercising!
Now that we live in Finland, it goes without saying that we do our weekly shopping online. We currently use the collection service of a K-Supermarket located next to the children’s day-care centre, which means we can place an order in the morning and collect it the same day. As my friends know, I recommend the service to everyone without being asked – especially to people who I assume would sorely need it. (I used the extra free time to start yoga. I warmly recommend that too, especially to stressed-out fathers.)
Of course, online grocery shopping is not for everyone. Some people value a peaceful hour in a shop, while others need the social contacts. For a person who is planning to redecorate and has no knack for that kind of work, using a building and home improvement store’s turnkey service (which I have also tested, by the way) will provide a better customer experience than ordering everything online.
What made me start buying groceries online? The shop that offered the service knew its customer base and understood what motivates a family with children: days are busy, weekly shopping is a necessity rather than a pleasure, quality is an important criterion and good service is valued. On the basis of these insights, the shop promised to make my daily life easier, and I noticed the promise was true. The service was developed gradually, so that my shopping experience was a little better every week.
A shop’s mission is to make its customers happy, or, actually, slightly more than happy – a good customer experience is created when a customer feels they have been given something quite unexpected.
Previous writers in this blog have already discussed the digitisation of trade and the related rapid pace of technological development. Without new technology and the possibilities opened up by digitisation, many strides could not be taken in improving the retail customer experience. Nevertheless, what is even more important is that companies learn to know their customers – not just as numbers but as people. When we who make the decisions learn to step into the shoes of others – customers – it becomes possible to create services that really matter. That is when a good customer experience turns into one that is better than expected.
It is naturally essential to develop new services that will help deliver a better customer experience. However, details and long-term improvements mean even more for customers. Year after year, e-commerce giant Amazon is the ultimate number one in the ever growing US online market. The reason is clear: in the words of its founders, Amazon is “focused like a laser on customer experience”. The company has launched new services regularly, but, above all, it has improved and fine-tuned its existing services every year. It was for this reason that I used the same online grocery shopping service for four years: the service was continuously developed, and the problems that annoyed me were resolved before I had time to become frustrated with them.
Jussi Mantere, Head of User Experience, K Digital