I am often asked, so ‘what now?’. We have implemented the latest technology, we have thought about the customer journey, we have pampered to the whims of our customers… but so have all our competitors. What can we do that really makes us stand out?
Great experiences remove all friction from the customer journey, first by identifying the friction points and then eliminating them - and brands in the Middle East are using technology and people to create masterful, localised, relevant experiences that are unparalleled. What used to be reserved for the few, is now available to everyman… and in doing so, brands are retaining customers in greater numbers, learning more and more about their customer's needs and improving their experiences to the extent that they are leaving the competition behind.
The shopping experience in malls, for example, is one where companies like Majid Al Futtaim - who own Mall of the Emirates, in Dubai - are leading the way. By considering the whole shopping experience, from home to mall to home, the brand has discovered ways to differentiate itself from others. Simple innovations like ‘hands-free’ - where customers can drop their shopping and have it delivered to their hotel, car or home for free (or a small charge) - are amazing. Providing a solution to a ‘friction-point’ that existed but was ignored has moved the level of service in this mall to a whole new level. Powered by an app, this service is not only convenient for the customer, it also helps the mall understand customer behaviour and habits, gathering valuable data that helps them improve their service even more.
In the airline industry, many of the Middle East’s best airlines offer services that are beyond imagination. Almost apologising for the fact that you are travelling with them in incredible luxury - offering convenience and experiences that are far better than anyone would experience at home, or on a European or US airline.
In the hospitality industry, it is common to hear frequent visitors to the Middle East say that there is five star and there is Middle Eastern five star. The service levels and attention to detail in the Middle East are way beyond that of just about any other market in the world.
Why are brands doing this?
The simple answer to this question is ‘Why have brands not done this before?’. Brand owners know that to capture and retain customers, they have to go the extra mile, serve customers better, know customers better and deliver above and beyond expectation. This means that speaking to a customer of one is no longer enough. Knowing that customer is expected - every customer has unique needs and being able to respond to these is the difference between success and failure… and there is no excuse. In the data-driven world, we all live in, brands are able to gain access to our habits, likes and dislikes so easily, they are able to plot trends, identify pain-points and micro-segments. As we move into the ‘New World’, the brands that will succeed are not the brands who collect the data, but the brands who know how to USE the data to improve their service and customer experience.
About the Authors
Nicholas Griffin is Managing Director at Principle Global (www.principleglobal.com) Information on how to contact Nick is in the footer of this web site.