Improving customer service and the use of technology to stay competitive in the food chain

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The need to grow and keep customers is dominating the agenda of consumer and retail executives around the world.

Thirty-three percent of the 526 consumer and retail executives responding to the fifth annual Global Consumer Executive Top of Mind survey, Think like a start-up: How to grow in a disruptive market, conducted by KPMG International and The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) say that customer trust and loyalty is their top priority for the next two years. Also, nearly three quarters (74 percent) say customer trust and loyalty is ‘very to critically’ important to their short-term success.

Survey results was released after the annual CGF Global Summit taking place this year in Berlin, Germany from 20th 23th June 2017.

The survey results suggest that many consumer and retail executives leading the largest businesses from around the world lack the capabilities and know-how to attract and keep customers.

Willy Kruh, KPMGs Global Chair, Consumer & Retail comments:

“Consumer and retail executives recognise that, in this age of disruption and volatility, customer experience is a primary differentiator and key weapon in the battle for their loyalty. Many executives now see that new business models could disrupt them and that, in a marketplace of unparalleled access to information, loyalty is not as strong as it once was. Recognition is one thing, but action is another.  To get closer to their customers, consumer and retail companies need to use customer data to not only make them wiser but also to translate it into a better experience. Personalisation needs to be founded in deep customer insight.”

Peter Freedman, Managing Director, The Consumer Goods Forum adds: Of the many disruptions in the consumer industry right now, arguably the most fundamental is the impact of Millennials and Generation Z. This report highlights how established businesses still have a long way to go to meet consumers changing needs for products, channels and relationships and most particularly the underlying importance of authenticity and transparency in everything they do. The CGFs members believe that collaboration has a big role to play in responding to these disruptions.”

The majority of the consumer and retail executives responding to the KPMG/CGF survey are looking at technology to improve the customer experience. They are using some of the more familiar technologies such as social media, mobile apps, e-commerce/digital payments, and mobile commerce/wallets. Indeed, the survey respondents report that enhanced customer experience is the primary benefit of their investment in and use of these technology tools.

Looking ahead, the adoption of newer technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) is still relatively low—only a third of respondents say they will invest in AI over the next two years.  However, 41 percent of those who plan to adopt AI say the primary motive will be to improve customer service.

Willy Kruh, KPMGs Global Chair, Consumer & Retail comments:

While some are using or planning to use AI to improve customer service, there is so much more that can be done both in terms of execution and strategy. Used in conjunction with customer data, for example, AI can provide deep data and analytics (D&A) capabilities to understand and predict customer preferences, make recommendations and ultimately drive sales.

However, when it comes to D&A, over a third of the consumer and retail executives responding to the survey say they have relatively low D&A capabilities. But then 62 percent also say D&A will be ‘very to critically’ important to their short-term success (with another 30 percent saying it’s at least moderately important). In addition, D&A capabilities are the top area of investment currently in use by 65 percent of respondents, and expected to be in use of 90 percent by 2019.

Willy Kruh, KPMGs Global Chair, Consumer & Retail comments:

D&A is the cornerstone of success for todays consumer and retail companies. Deep, real-time insights can unlock a companys ability to earn customer trust and loyalty by enabling them to understand and serve them exactly when, where and how they want. It can fuel and drive agility and efficiency throughout the supply chainfrom manufacturing to distribution, and it can inform a dynamic and competitive price and product strategy. Very soon, consumer and retail companies without advanced D&A capabilities will no longer be competitive.”

For more information visit CGF Global Summit.