Customer Experience in Italy, the secrets of excellence

Discover the dynamics of the Italian market and learn from the Top Brands!


Focus on the customer, always


If they asked me who, in my opinion, was one of the pioneers of the obsession with customer experience, I would have no hesitation in saying Walt Disney, the father of Mickey Mouse and the cartoon imagery which accompanied us during our childhood. Absolute genius that he was, in 1955 he inaugurated Disneyland, in California, the first amusement park opened by Disney and the first theme park in the world where indeed the attractions recreated a world and told a story.

Obsessed with involving his customers, Disney often visited the park, the only one whose design he personally supervised (before dying in 1966), disguised as an ordinary visitor in order to experience what his customers felt. When he didn't like what he experienced or when he collected negative feedback from those around him, you could rest assured that he would make drastic changes. And all this in the name of customer centricity.

The KPMG Nunwood International Centre of Customer Experience Excellence analyzed the assessments of approximately 5,000 consumers who expressed their opinion on 217 Brands operating in Italy, with the aim of identifying national best practices in terms of Customer Experience and of studying, starting from successful cases, the winning elements for building excellent shopping experiences for one's customers.

To give each company a CEE Score (Customer Experience Excellence Score), KPMG measures performance based on six fundamental pillars (the Six Pillars), which are Personalization, Expectations, Time and Commitment, Integrity, Resolution and Empathy, which have been identified as drivers for improving the relationship with the customer. The Brand that masters the Six Pillars creates economic value for the company, starting with the improvement of the Net Promoter Score and greater customer retention. This is demonstrated by the fact that the Top100 CEE brands have achieved, on average, a 25.3% increase in revenue over the last 3 years.


The state of Customer Experience in Italy


If we wanted to summarize the point of no return which the Customer Experience is heading towards in two words, we would use Omnichannel and Expectations. Omnichannel because it is expected that by 2020 there will be 50 billion devices connected to the global network, a number seven times higher than the entire world population.

When imagining this context, in which decision making is accompanied by an instantaneous click, the connection becomes one of the customer's expectations, and rightfully so. That is why, in its survey, KPMG also took into account the Omnichannel Index, which is the ability of a company to provide an integrated and consistent experience across different channels. In Italy the top performer in terms of omnichannel is Banca Mediolanum, which has an index of 8.33. The relevance of this factor is demonstrated by the fact that companies with such high indexes appear in the Top 50 of the CEE Score. 

Customers, who now have deeper knowledge of the digital world, raise the bar of their expectations more and more when it comes to the Brand. If we consider Forrester Consulting's "Winning in the consumer age" report, 81% of the executives interviewed consider "customer insight", i.e. 360° knowledge of the customer, an essential requirement for company growth. That is why we emphasize the importance of keeping an eye on the customer journey, that is all the points of contact between the consumer and the Brand, to map (and intervene where possible) the "moments of truth", those key moments in which the consumer is more inclined to discontinue a habitual purchase and lose their affection for the brand. And also to map the critical, so-called pain points, in order to ensure continuous customer satisfaction.

In Italy we are faced with a high growth in customer expectations, which are more difficult to meet due to the strong competition between Brands: compared to 2016, the CEE Score of 65% of the companies investigated has worsened but, at the same time, it has surpassed the results recorded in the United Kingdom, which were higher until recently. Interestingly enough, we are really strong in the Empathy Pillar but this could be due to the communicative and warm nature of Italian culture.

With empathy it is easier to leave a trace in the consumer's memory and therefore guarantee a memorable experience. If you want to provide it, you have to know how to manage the three moments that make it memorable (first impression, emotional peak and final impression). In terms of Empathy, the winner is CheBanca!, which is able to combine innovative digital services with human capital.


The TopBrands


Banca Mediolanum, CheBanca! etc., you saw it for yourselves: 2017 definitely turned out to be the year of Financial Services, which recorded the greatest increase in CEE Scores across all Pillars. As regards the other sectors, NonGrocery Retail and Grocery Retail are still at the top of the ranking.

Apple Store and Amazon compete for first and second place, the way Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi might compete for a Ballon d'Or. Apple Store has “stolen” the top spot from Amazon, and is now the Italian Leader in terms of CX, once again raising the bar of expectations by presenting itself not just as a simple point of sale but as a place where, accompanied by friendly and competent staff, it's possible to inspire and share innovation thanks to the programming of new events and courses offered by the Brand inside its stores.

But Amazon is not far behind, always anticipating new trends to penetrate every aspect of the consumer's life. I really like this phrase reported by Financial Force: "Amazon did not kill other retailers. Poor customer service and experience did. Technology by itself is not the disruptor. Not being customer centric is the biggest threat to any business". After all, if we think about it, Amazon is not necessarily an innovative company, it's a bookseller that has used logistics to increase customer satisfaction. After having conquered the business of books with its incredibly efficient sales network, it has expanded into other sectors becoming a Titan of e-commerce. Recently it has implemented new features such as the one-click purchase of high-frequency products (dash button).

NonGrocery Retail predominates in the TopTen: in addition to Apple and Amazon, we find Chanel, Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Dior and Lush, followed by GroceryRetail with Esselunga in twelfth place. Esselunga, for the second consecutive year, is the leader of the Grocery Retail sector: the company has recently introduced a new "Click and Go" shopping service that allows consumers to shop online then pick up the items at various points of sale, in addition to its "Esselunga a casa" online shopping and home delivery service. In the general Top100 ranking, Hilton stands out in the Travel & Hotels sector, Netflix wins hands down in Entertainment & Leisure, while the champion of Restaurant & Foods is McDonald's.


What are the elements of a successful CX according to KPMG?



Let's not forget that, in order to always be aligned with the expectations of our customers and provide them with an excellent Customer Experience, we need to know their true interests. And what's better than Content Intelligence, that is AI applied to content, to give back more precise insights about our audience? We believe there is nothing better, so we invite you to learn more about it with this article.


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Read the KPMG report