Technological innovation is growing exponentially; how does your company keep up?

By | News, Technology

In the coming years, an unusual trend will become steadily more obvious: it will become clear that technological innovation is now growing exponentially rather than via a linear curve. Within ten years, computers will be powerful enough to make as many calculations per second as the human brain. These developments will have a big impact on organizations’ business models.

Companies can’t avoid it; in the not too distant future, all organizations will go digital. If current developments keep growing exponentially, computer power (calculations per second) will be equal to the total calculations of all human brains put together within one generation. Moreover, various new technologies and their uses will have an impact on all sectors, such as blockchain, AI, robotics, Internet of Things and medical wearables.

Exponential, rather than linear thinking

Disruption as a result of these technological developments looms over every organization. Many companies today have need of new business models in order to face this disruption. Focusing on improvements within the current business model, the so-called ‘Horizon 1 and 2’ developments, is no longer sufficient. Continuous attention for new Horizon 3 business models must be anchored in the corporate culture.

There are already a fair few examples of senior management (don’t be that guy) hanging onto their tried and tested business models on the basis of personal experience and expertise. Because of this, they eventually had to deal with total disruption. Competition can often be found where you aren’t expecting it; start-ups use all available technologies to launch new business models.

That’s why it’s important to start thinking about the future now. In the coming years, for example, chatbots will become commonplace in customer service. In the healthcare sector, medical wearables are being developed which can not only cure certain illnesses, but prevent them entirely. The blockchain will eventually be put into use everywhere, cutting out the need for a ‘middle man’. Moreover, Artificial Intelligence technology will be integrated into our existences and will act as our co-pilots.

Prepare for the future

It’s difficult to fully anticipate upcoming developments. The human brain simply isn’t capable to predict and extrapolate such exponential trends. This means that anticipating the specifics is pointless. Set up your organization to be technologically flexible, so that it can quickly adjust itself according to the market.

Don’t stick to just ideas; anchor the technological models in the organization and put them into practice. Firstly, the senior management has to be made aware of the exponential growth curve that will impact all organizations. Then employees throughout the company must be stimulated to think and act in an innovative manner. Of course, this must happen with and for clients. This entails (minimum viable) products being launched cyclically in order to receive feedback as quickly as possible in order to improve. Only organizations that learn faster than the competition will survive.

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Commercial banking: the burning platform that nobody sees

By | Banking, News

Technology’s influence on the banking sector is becoming increasingly important. Despite this, commercial banks are far behind retail banks in terms of innovation, way of working and digitalisation. The clock is ticking; if the sector doesn’t change it’s ways, choosing to remain process-driven rather than client-driven, the bank will turn itself into a burning platform.

Even though traditional players are still dominating the banking sector, the world is changing at a faster pace than ever. The new payment law (PSD2) and changes in the banking sector have opened the market for ‘new’ players. Google starts to develop payment initiatives and challenger banks are winning market shares.

Fintechs are taking over the profitable parts of the operation. If this trend continues, commercial banks will have to be careful that they do not become merely a utility provider.

Read More

Tech companies take giant steps in healthcare

By | Healthcare, News, Technology

Tech giants, such as Google and Apple, have had their sights set on the health market for years. They have a good reason: the health sector ticks every box that technology companies are interested in. They are suffering from problems such as affordability and scarcity, it is a relatively non-transparent market and there is a lot of money in it.

In the past, competitive forces proved they were able to shape and dominate other sectors. Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft have completely changed the way we communicate, shop and work. These tech companies have the same similar ambitions in healthcare, although each concern has its own approach based on its own strengths. Apple focuses on consumer electronics, Google on data and Microsoft on online services and analytics. Which steps did they take recently during last year?

Apple

Apple has offered the ‘health, care and research kit’ for years in order to be able to build healthcare apps quickly, and to gather and share information. In 2018, Apple launched Health Records on iOS, allowing customers to see and change their medical dossier, as well as share them with healthcare providers. This can also consist of data from electronic patient records belonging to hospitals or other healthcare providers.

By mid-2018, more than 500 hospitals were connected to Health Records. Apple also further developed their personal metrics programs, such as cardiac monitoring (ECG) via the newest Apple Watch. They are also forging partnerships to work towards digital eye tests and revalidation programs for those recuperating from knee and hip operations.

Alphabet

Google’s parent company Alphabet was possibly the most active in the healthcare branch in 2018. Most noteworthy was the launch of the new Google Fit platform and their new partnership with Fitbit. Their goal is to make data more easily accessible for doctors. They are now in direct competition with Apple in the e-health market.

Alphabet also showed strong support for the American company Oscar Health. The online health insurance company gained almost 400 million dollars in investment capital last year. Oscar Health customers can save for discounts on their health insurance premium by exercising. On top of this, Alphabet also has two subsidiary companies which are focused on healthcare. Verily develops possibilities for medical machine learning, whilst Calico is focused on genome research.

Amazon

Amazon shook up the healthcare market last year in their quest for growth. Firstly, they announced that they are going to set up their own health care providers for staff. This will be done in partnership with business bank J.P. Morgan Chase and Warren Buffett’s megacorporation Berkshire Hathaway.

Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos wants to start his own healthcare company that will offer smarter, cheaper, and better care. After this announcement, Amazon bought online pharmacy Pillpack for 1 billion dollars. Through smart use of data, Pillpack improves service for patients. The client receives precisely measured doses, is reminded when it’s time to take medication, and no longer has to take care of declaring costs to insurance companies, as Pillpack takes care of that as well.

On top of all this, Amazon has started developing products to gather and process medical data via the cloud service Amazon Web Service, with digital assistant Alexa fulfilling the role of digital doctor.

Microsoft

Microsoft is mainly focusing on researchers, doctors, and biotech. The company is developing various AI and cloud computing projects through the NExT program. In 2018, Microsoft launched diagnostic support of images and tooling for doctors and scientists in the field of genomics.

Both projects are AI-driven and are saved in the cloud. Microsoft emphasises the latter. The company offers cyber security by saving healthcare data safely in the cloud following strict compliance and confidentiality regulations.

Alibaba/Tencent

Large Asian tech companies are also active in the healthcare sector. Alibaba is predominantly known as a cheap web shop, but in Asia they are leading the application of Artificial Intelligence in healthcare. CEO Jack Ma rapidly developed a platform for the interpretation of diagnostics like CAT scans. The tech giant also has a virtual assistant that supports doctors when selecting treatments.

It’s even less well-known that Tencent- Asia’s number one tech company- is also extremely interested in healthcare. Customers can get medical advice and make appointments via the app WeChat. The company has an online and offline ecosystem at their disposal in order to provide healthcare through partnership with Trusted Doctors. Moreover, Tencent has developed diagnostic programs in order to help doctors diagnose cancer early. They’ve also started initiatives to utilise their AI platform in order to help diagnose other diseases, including Parkinson’s disease.

The future

Tech companies are on a roll and are going to have an increasingly large impact on the healthcare sector. The degree to which this occurs depends on a number of developments:

  • Tech companies are wrestling with a lack of information standards in health care, which hinders the exchange of data. In 2019, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM are working on further developing a new standard, FHIR, in order to enable unhindered connection.
  • Medical professionals are critical of tech companies’ developments, and they are the ones who decide in the end if these developments are implemented. There are, for example, doubts about the reliability of these developments, such as the ECG of the Apple Watch. Moreover, the sector is suffering from ‘not invented here’ syndrome.
  • Tech companies are not always as careful with data as they should be. Facebook is the most recent example of this. Many consumers don’t let this stop them. However, it remains to be seen how long they will accept this when dealing with sensitive information such as illnesses and treatment.
  • Everything is different in healthcare. A patient can act differently than a consumer. The healthcare branch is also much more strictly regulated than other sectors.
  • In closing, the healthcare sector- depending on the country- is often publicly financed.

The answer

In the Netherlands, many healthcare facilities will say that they aren’t noticing the influence of large tech companies very much. That is true. That is the very reason why now is the correct time to take action. Ask yourself if you, as a healthcare provider, know enough about the digital needs of your patients. Research how tech companies can contribute to affordability, accessibility, and staff choice within your healthcare facility. Broaden your horizons and don’t be surprised by the development speed of tech companies.

By: Walter Kien (manager Healthcare IG&H) en Arvid Glerum (consultant Healthcare IG&H).

Ruud Schoenmakers new IG&H partner within retail practice

By | News, Retail

IG&H expands the retail branch of the company with Ruud Schoenmakers as new partner. Schoenmakers joined IG&H as a consultant in 2005. Since then, he has served both national and international customers in the areas of retail, trade, logistics and financial services.

IG&H is a leading player in business transformations, where new platform technology plays an accelerating role. “Our approach is distinctive because sector experts and experts in the field of technology, data science and organisational transformation work together intensively. I really believe in that. That is why I’d like to join IG&H as a partner for a long time. By combining different competencies, strategy becomes reality and we can help our customers make a difference for their own customers,” Schoenmakers says.

The new partner is mainly involved in the changing digital retail market. In recent years he has developed innovative concepts in several areas, including smart pricing, last mile delivery, new business ventures and agile business transformations. As a sector expert he is also involved in converting traditional IT environments into high performance platforms, making customers more innovative, agile and keeping costs relevant.

Although the head office of IG&H is located in the Netherlands, Schoenmakers has gained a lot of experience abroad. He has worked in England, Poland, France, Belgium, Germany and America, among other countries.

“Ruud has proven to be able to complete major change processes for international customers. He has really helped leading retailers reach a higher level in times of disruption. This allowed them to innovate faster and respond better to customer demand. In recent years Ruud has proven to be a true IG&H person; he looks at the facts and at the same time knows how to create energy in the organisation”, says managing partner Jan van Hasenbroek.

How digital channels really add value to the customer experience

By | News, Technology

An exceptionally good customer experience leads to demonstrably better business results. Research shows that customer satisfaction increases, brand reputation optimizes and turnover increases as well. How do you improve the customer experience by using digital developments such as personalized websites, IoT devices and voice assistants? Jules Hoppenbrouwers, Manager Digital Customer Experience, explains.

If you want to increase the customer satisfaction of your company, you have to meet the expectations of the consumer and take an extra step at key moments in the customer journey. Companies are therefore expected to create a strong and consistent customer experience during all touchpoints in this process. The customer experience is as good as the weakest link in the entire customer journey.

The difference between an online and offline consumer is fading. Customers are constantly changing from one channel to another. For example, after someone doesn’t feel like they are assisted online, they can decide to call customer service. Unfortunately, there is a possibility that a consumer will have to tell his entire story again.

Many companies are not yet responding to the numerous channels on which a consumer is active. For example, the call center employee does not know about the previous online journey of a consumer. This can give them the feeling of being given the runaround. If a few days later, the customer subsequently receives a general newsletter that does not meet his needs, he will most likely unsubscribe.

One customer view 

To prevent this problem, companies need to work from a single customer view, available for all different channels. A customer profile includes information about the (online) behaviour of the consumer, which can be enriched with data from other systems, such as demographic data and purchase history.

First map out which systems contain information about your customer. If you, as a company, carefully bring this data together, one relevant customer view emerges. If all goes well, it is already known where this information is due to the General Data Protection Regulation (AVG) (or GDPR) regulations.

Visualize the customer journey

We live in a time where the customer communicates with the brand of your organisation via personalized websites, mobile apps, or smart thermostats. If the customer journey is carefully mapped out, you can easily respond to these new developments. Figure out where you can renew and optimize your customer journey by using new technologies.

The extra data insights that arise from the use of these digital innovations can help you to discover patterns in the behaviour of your customers through Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). You can act on this by, for example, responding to possible new purchases; the ‘next best action’.

It is also possible to optimize online sales funnels and service channels through online platforms. This gives employees real-time access to relevant information about their customers. By means of A/B-testing it is possible to observe which statements convert best.

Digital Experience platform

A Digital Experience Platform (DXP) plays a key role in operating all these digital touch points. It brings an omni-channel customer view together with a content management system, allowing you to automatically send relevant information to the right customer over the right channel in real-time. This allows a customer to continue his journey seamlessly from, for example, a physical contact moment to a digital interaction via the ‘my-environment’.

Each channel specific type of service

Incidentally, this does not mean that the customer receives the same service on every channel. When visiting a ‘Brick and mortar’ store, the consumer may want personal advice, while the digital channel is more suitable for offering services efficiently and effortlessly. Give the customer the experience that suits the channel and connects to the integrated customer service.

IG&H has a unique combination of sector expertise and the different competence teams of Technology, Analytics and Organization Transformation. This is why we are positioned to connect the many individual initiatives from an integrated customer view and to turn them into a valuable and memorable customer experience. Want to know more? Contact us.

Are we in the Dutch healthcare market looking forward to Amazon?

By | Health, Healthcare, News

Last year, Amazon entered into a partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase & Co. The company also bought Pillpack, an online pharmacy. Both initiatives aim to offer good care at a low price. This step arouses unrest: the share prices of several companies in the med tech and pharmaceutical industries fell. Has a new disruptive healthcare player emerged? And what will the effect be on the Netherlands?

By entering into a partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase, Amazon is circumventing the health insurer. The purchase of Pillpack and the plans to open clinics indicate that the ambitions of the web giant go beyond just financing care. If Amazon interferes with technological developments in the healthcare market, the impact will be vast. It fits in with the strength and motivation with which the company has also entered the supermarket sector, for example.

Opportunities for digital platforms in the Netherlands

In other markets, we see tech parties that bring supply and demand together on a single digital platform emerge. This excludes intermediaries, as Airbnb and Netflix are already doing.

Does Amazon have this healthcare role in mind and is their plan to take it outside the US? There are many intermediaries active in the Dutch healthcare sector, for example in health insurance, pharmacy or medical devices. For Amazon and other online disruptive players, there are plenty of opportunities to integrate and digitise the role of these intermediaries.

Exciting, because they will significantly increase the competitive pressure in the healthcare market. A platform offers many advantages in terms of ease of use and experience. It also makes the offer transparent, which lowers prices. And that is the – so far only – goal communicated by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase.

Getting a foothold is difficult

Before a digital player like Amazon gets a foothold in the Netherlands, it will have to overcome many hurdles. Our complex financing structure leaves little space for new business models. The patient is not or hardly willing to pay extra for new services, on top of the premium. This is a major entry barrier for new initiatives.

Health care systems across the globe vary considerably, making it more difficult for platforms to scale up across borders. Crucial to the success of digital platforms is the low cost of an additional user. With different systems, this success factor does not seem to work. Truly successful digital players need a minimum scale that is larger than the Dutch market alone.

To be successful, digital disruptive parties use data and algorithms. In Dutch healthcare, mass data and especially medical data are well protected by laws and regulations. Previously, the national EPD had already failed in the Senate for privacy reasons. Technological innovations in data exchange offer a solution, but are still in pilot phase and not widely implemented.

Finally, healthcare is a service par excellence for which human contact is essential. There is a relationship of trust between doctors, pharmacists and their patients. This can be supported, but it is difficult to replace it entirely by a digital platform of an American tech giant.

Pressure on these barriers is increasing: breakthroughs are imminent

However, we cannot assume that a party like Amazon will be held back by this. Health insurers are increasingly looking for innovative ways to reduce healthcare costs. This may change the payment culture among patients, making them more sensitive to the supply of new parties. Progress is also being made on digital data exchange. This will hopefully be further accelerated by the obligation to share patient data digitally, recently announced by Minister Bruins.

As a result of these developments, the aforementioned stumbling blocks for tech players are becoming less threatening. The current healthcare market can see this as an opportunity for further development. Tech players are successful because in their business operations, they put their customers first. They offer more convenience and excellent service. Ask yourself whether your organisation still meets the needs of the patient or customer to the maximum. Identify the steps you can take to match this level, perhaps in collaboration with successful tech players.

Wondering how (digital) disruptions can take your organization to the next level? At IG&H we are happy to think along with you.

By: Roos Blankena (r.blankena@igh.nl) and Linda de Jong (l.dejong@igh.nl).

How platforms can accelerate the Digital Transformation

By | News, Technology

Digitalisation is taking off unprecedentedly, but by no means every organisation is equipped to respond to it. Because companies spend a lot of money on maintaining expensive and inflexible systems, this is ultimately at the expense of customer satisfaction and competitiveness. How can your organisation become effective again?

Digitising is no longer a choice for companies, but a necessity. Consumers want to be helped faster than before. Companies that make effective moves within the market increase their competitive position.The problem is that many companies have little insight into the number of applications. In addition, it is often not known how high the current and future costs are for maintaining all this software. The vast majority of the budget is therefore not spent on innovation, but on maintaining (outdated) IT systems.

As strong as the weakest link

The speed of an organisation is ultimately determined by the weakest link in the chain. This is the (standard) package to which only complexity and therefore time and money is added. Everyone knows that if you add complexity to complexity, problems just get bigger.

In order to maintain a good market position in the future, each organisation will therefore have to spend its IT budget and resources significantly differently. A well-designed IT platform offers a solution and creates more overview, quality, development speed and opportunities for exponential growth. This is how technology helps to control costs and to transform the organisation into a digital organisation.

Unlike monolithic software, which does not facilitate “continuous delivery”, orchestrated software does. Platforms facilitate reuse and compliance so that simple components can be converted into new products. Maintenance is also relatively easy because individual components can be replaced.

Slimming and strengthening

In order to make the IT in an organisation agile and to keep it that way, it is important that the complexity is drastically reduced. The number of applications must be reduced as well. At the same time, knowledge and skills must be gained to build and integrate platforms into the existing infrastructure. The big challenge for IT departments is to carry out this transition while the regular operation continues.

Building a necessary lean and agile organisation does not only require good IT platforms. It is equally important that the management takes real ownership and shows leadership to reduce the existing complexity. A digital business requires a strategic focus on quality, cost control, speed and exponential growth in demand.

Companies wanting to maintain their competitive position will have to develop a culture that can cope with a constantly changing world.

Organisational form under the microscope

Therefore, building up the necessary cultural competences and integrating the software go hand in hand. The organisational form, leadership, mindset and skillset of the employees should be placed under the microscope. This means an existential transformation in which the focus is on subscribing, buying, building and integrating software.

This completely changes the speed and way of working, speaking in terms of weeks instead of years and days instead of weeks, no hierarchy involved. Continuous customer value is created and products are created and only driven by “outcome”. In short, a real agile organisation.

This article is based on the story Andy Kyte told Gartner during the OutSystems Nextstep of October 8, 2018 in Amsterdam.

Mismatch leads to visible decline in the business claims market

By | Insurance, News

More and more occupational groups are (temporarily) uninsurable. The business claims market is going through major developments and is looking for a new balance. Due to a sharply reduced supply and increasingly complex needs, a mismatch is increasingly arising. One that will not be solved for the time being. This is shown by the IG&H Performance and Distribution Monitor.

Since the big blow in the sector ten years ago, insurers in the business claims market have been struggling with their positioning. Which target group do they want to serve and, for example, do they work with authorised agents or not? Until there is clarity about the price, the supply side is strongly standardized to limit risks. As a result, our monitor shows, the sector is effectively standing still in its development.

Conflicting developments

The sector is faced with a mismatch between supply and demand. On the one hand, the complexity of customer demands increases. What used to be a simple risk is changing into a complex risk due to demographic, ecological and technological developments.

At the same time, the range of products offered by insurers is shrinking and even more standardized, among other things through new data solutions which should exclude risks. Although these can have a positive impact on financial performance, they also increase the number of uninsurable groups. This resulted, among other things, in reports in the news about taxi drivers and waste processors. The monitor also shows that, for the first time in a long period of time, independent advisers are not as good at assessing the services provided by insurers in the commercial property-casualty market.

Finding balance is not possible without a fight

Insurers will have to break this trend. In the future, the market will have to move back to a new balance in which customer and insurers share the risks. IG&H sees three different options; hyper focus on niche specialisation, an increase in scale or expansion of the service. Finding a new balance will be gradual, but it will be tricky, since certain professional groups are (temporarily) difficult to insure.

Value-based healthcare: the road to success

By | Healthcare, News

It has been more than a decade since the book Redefining Health Care by Prof. Michael E. Porter was published. Since then, the attention of the Dutch healthcare sector for value-based healthcare (VBHC) has increased every year.

We know that value-based healthcare is about maximizing the value of patient care and reducing healthcare costs. Porter describes the transformation of care into value-based healthcare using six sub agendas:

Last year, during a working session with Michael Porter, 25 decision-makers from the Dutch health care sector identified the first two sub-agenda’s as most relevant and urgent: the design of the IPUs and the measurement of the results.

We do see a number of themes that need attention:

  • Healthcare organisations are often organised around specialisms and it requires leadership to break through this. In order to set up integrated practice units, walls must be broken and existing interests (including budgets) must be abandoned.
  • The lack of funding is an often heard excuse. Reforming the DOT-system is the only way to make Value-based Healthcare possible. Fortunately, practical examples show many opportunities within the current system.
  • The required (outcome) indicators are not or only available to a limited extent. Although the available control information in care institutions is often not yet at the desired level, however this does not mean that you can’t do anything with it.

Although these are complex themes, they are already being tackled by a number of Dutch healthcare organisations. For example, we are seeing the emergence of integrated practices units more and more often. For example, in Diabeter for type 1 diabetes care and within the Dutch Obesity Clinic (NOK) for patients with morbid obesity. The number of cases in which value is purchased has also increased in recent years in terms of funding. Menzis is the leader in this field and applies this for a large number of providers of cataract operations and hip and knee osteoarthritis treatments. As a hospital, Santeon has taken a leading role in the value-based healthcare philosophy. For example, by starting with what is already measured, instead of waiting until the entire set of indicators is available. With a manageable scope and a pragmatic approach, Santeon hospitals are able to achieve their first successes. We believe that these are the crucial factors for a successful implementation of value-based healthcare.

How do you increase the chance of success?

A limited scope and organisation at program level and in the care area are important success factors for a successful start. The focus of many organizations is mainly on the, often ambitious, final goal and not on the road to it. Some examples to start pragmatically:

  • The entire organisation does not have to change, you can start per medical condition.
  • Develop a roadmap and systematically do one or few medical conditions at a time. Start with the information that is available and expand these indicators step by step.
  • Introduce activity-based costing step by step, starting with the largest cost items. Also take a good look at what’s in-house. It does not have to be extremely accurate. Estimates are also just fine.

Good leadership is essential

To start small, there must be room to change, to make mistakes and to learn from them. Good leadership is essential. Give employees a safe environment to experiment in by radiating ambition and believing in the ultimate goal. But how do we ensure good leadership, a healthy ambition and a safe culture of improvement? And how can we make optimal use of this to make value-based healthcare really work? It is our ambition to help the healthcare sector by sharing our vision and experiences with you. In the coming period we will discuss the following topics in a series of blogs.

Blog 1: The Pragmatic Start

Starting small and pragmatic is important to create momentum. Give the enthusiastic healthcare professionals and existing initiatives a platform. We describe three steps to start with, to organize for success. What makes this start pragmatic and therefore feasible?

Blog 2: The Data driven Performance Dialogue

How do you get from insight to action? What type of conversation should be held between professionals in value-based healthcare? How do you do so? And what is needed for this?

Blog 3: Data and Insight

Data and insight: an important factor in value-based healthcare. Not for nothing one of the most important strategic sub-agenda’s and at the same time a big threshold. What is needed to unlock the necessary data? And how do we present the data in an intelligent way so that it facilitates the performance dialogue? How can data-analytics support this to the maximum?

Blog 4: Our vision for the future

How beautiful it would be …

… if the patient can take part in the care process and is in control of his own health?

… if technology is used to the maximum and doctors and managers are supported by predictive (or even prescriptive) analytics?

… if knowledge sharing is the norm, among doctors, among care providers and between research and the clinic?

When does technology enhance customer experience?

By | News, Retail

Using in-store technology to inspire customers is not as important as may be expected, IG&H concludes from a survey conducted among 2000 Dutch consumers. “Technology can further enhance customer experience but the right ambiance and personal attention are still decisive”, say retail consultants Joris de Bruin and Evelien Kip.

It is key to understand how great or poor customer experience influences your consumer’s behavior and your success as a retailer”, De Bruin explains. To provide retailers with more in-depth insights about the latest trends in retail, IG&H is going to publish regular updates. This research about customer experience is the sum of all online and offline interactions with a retailer’s products, services and brands.

“We see a lot of buzz around augmented reality, AI and mobile payment, but the effect of these advanced technologies on customer experience is (still) very limited if it does not contribute to ambiance and personal attention. Don’t bother to start using advanced in-store technology or social interaction experiments to improve customer experience, unless you have these basics right”, he says.

 

Personal attention is most appreciated

70 percent of the customers surveyed said to value personal attention most in an offline store. A good in-store ambiance is appreciated by 60 percent. Almost half of the respondents enjoy an element of surprise. “Think about ‘tokens of appreciation’ such as free demo products, gifts, additional services or just a sincere compliment or thank you from the staff”, Kip says.

Getting the basics right is key in creating a great customer experience

This does not mean that retailers can ignore technology completely, she explains. “Contactless payments, apps and self-scanning definitely contribute to the customer experience, but should further improve personal attention, design and ambiance. Retailers often forget about further educating and developing well-trained employees with a relentless focus on the customer.”

As a good example in this field, she names Coolblue with their XL stores. “A warm welcome awaits from a dedicated employee once you enter the store. Based on your needs, you are guided directly into the right customer journey”.

To create an excellent in-store ambiance, Kip advises on creating a multi-sensory experience, like the smell of fresh bread in the supermarket. “A great example is the Jumbo Foodmarket concept: extra wide and clearly classified isles, decorated with culinary elements speak to the imagination during your journey to the counter.”

A tailored approach to the online customer experience is required

In the online world, ambiance (or design) is most important, according to the respondents. “This can be translated into providing a user-friendly website with an appealing design aligned with the brand’s image. Contrary to the offline world, personal attention is not a must-have for a great online customer experience. We believe this is heavily linked to a shopper’s mindset and goal. Online shoppers often want a quick, easy and more anonymous journey”, Kip says.

Great customer experience transforms customers into brand ambassadors

IG&H Retail consultants focus on helping retailers to remain relevant. “Being relevant to your customers should be the key objective”, De Bruin observes. “Relevance can be achieved through successfully aligning your organization’s purpose and proposition with your customer’s expectations. It requires a connection with your customers on an intrinsic level, they need to be able to identify themselves with your brand. Key to this is providing them with a great customer experience that exceeds expectations.”

Loyal customers will act as true brands ambassadors

If a retailer succeeds, customers return more often, tell their friends and family about their experiences, and tend to buy more, leading to an increased revenue. Margins are not that easy to improve, as customers are not willing to pay more for the same products or services while having a great experience.

“A poor customer experience impacts everything, from the bottom line, to loyalty and reputation. It will make your brand less relevant and eventually lead to ending up in the retail graveyard. Retailers who put their time and effort into providing personal customer attention at the highest level possible and constantly create a pleasant ambiance, will create loyal customers who act as true brands ambassadors”, he advises.

Curious about how Dutch retailers score on customer experience? We will announce which retailers are the winners and which ones need to pay more attention to it soon.