Woolies Chairman Backs Customer-First

Alex Allwood Customer Experience

When Woolworths’ newly elected chairman Gordon Cairns fronted the media recently, he stated he would turn Australia’s biggest retailer around by appointing a strong leadership team and putting customers first. Cairns has acknowledged he has a big challenge ahead; the task at hand revealed in leading market researcher Forrester’s latest report on customer experience.

The report on Australia’s leading and lagging customer experience brands shows both Woolworths and Big W were two of the lowest scoring brands on the Forrester Customer Experience (CX) Index. Other brands that featured in the worst performers list included, Telstra, QBE, Westpac, ANZ, Dodo, Foxtel and TPG.

Globally, Forrester research shows that 92 per cent of brands rate customer experience as one of their top strategic priorities. In contrast only 50 per cent of Australian businesses rate customer experience as a strategic priority for their organisations.

Forrester’s top ten Australian customer experience brands are: Bendigo Bank, ING Direct, RACQ, Youi, Suncorp Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, RACV, Bankwest, ANZ and Coles Insurance.

The Australian marketplace is changing rapidly. International brands are opening their doors to Australian customers with new digital and bricks and mortar offerings, delivering new experiences and eroding the competitive advantage of established Australian brands.

Customer expectations have shifted too. They are now super connected; their mobile devices are more often than not their first screen in researching, reviewing, comparing one brand to the next and sharing their experiences with their peers.

Today’s customer purchase journey is complex and influenced by a vast number of touchpoints, with access to information anytime and anywhere, and recommendations from their social networks. For today’s consumer, word-of-mouth is considered to be the most credible and trustworthy source of buyer information with Nielsen citing that 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.

Given CMOs’ exposure to the customer and their focus on data, technology, media and design, marketers are best placed to help drive customer experience transformation.

For CX initiatives to successfully deliver customer value, competitive advantage and sustainable growth, brand leaders will need to embrace transformation rather than step-change.

On the agenda will be driving business growth through cultural alignment and uniting the brand with a powerful purpose, dismantling organisational silos and ensuring brand promises are kept across each touchpoint to deliver a positive end-to-end experience that customers want to talk about.

To get in the game, brands will need to solve one of their biggest challenges: internal alignment around the customer agenda, where the brand exists to serve its customers. Alignment brings together internal silos across marketing, service, sales, IT, HR and operations to meet customers’ needs and foster word-of-mouth recommendation.

Internal teams will need to collaborate to bring together customer feedback, operational data, website and social data and CRM databases to ensure there is a closed-loop, company-wide sharing of customer intelligence.

Initiatives will include using customer advocacy scores as a key metric for continuous improvement, coupled with overhauling legacy systems, streamlining internal processes and empowering employees to fix customer problems.

On his first day at Woolies, Cairns stated: “If you put customer first, profits take care of themselves.” His customer-first vision and mandate for strong leadership is the ideal starting point for transformation and could well see the rapid revitalisation of the portfolio.

First Published: https://goo.gl/jBLQXJ

About the Author

Alex Allwood

Alex Allwood’s focus is connecting customer and culture to empower customer-centric growth. Working with B2B2C, Alex helps improve experiences that enhance customer value and distinctively differentiate. With a 20 year track record in leadership, operations and marketing, Alex’s strength is developing customer experience strategy: customer understanding and empathy, experience vision and guiding principles and the customer narrative to enable collaboration and alignment. Alex is principal of the customer experience consultancy, All Work Together; has authored the book Customer Experience is the Brand, regularly facilitates Customer Journey Mapping workshops and is a speaker on customer-centric transformation.