Minna Vakkilainen: The customer experience is vital. Data guides everything. You decide.
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