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In the latest issue of the ‘Consumer Barometer’, the IFH institute for retail research in Cologne, and financial consultants, KPMG, take a look at ‘Customer Centricity’ and, thus, the question of which factors determine whether customers feel themselves to be at the centre of a company’s concerns. For the study, 500 people across Germany were polled in an online survey. The central finding was that it is, above all, the retailers, who are big on helping their customers with appropriate advice, who care about quality and who go out of their way to be obliging, that are most appreciated by customers.

According to IFH Köln, it is ‘absolutely vital’ for 51 % of respondents to get individual help and advice when making a purchase. Almost as many consumers (47 %) expect a customer-centred company’s sales staff to be available quickly to deal with their requests. Doubtless because of these factors, 72 % of respondents feel themselves better served at high-street retailers. “The staff are often a crucial factor in a company’s success at making customers feel that a company cares about them. At the same time, it is important for sufficient staff to be available and for them to be able to advise customers competently and on an individual basis. Retailers should, therefore, invest in their advisory and service provision, in order to meet customer’s expectations in this regard,” says Dr. Kai Hudetz, Chief Executive of IFH Köln. “When we talk about customer centricity, people want excellence across all channels: more than four out of five consumers expect information and communication independent of the particular sales channel. Currently, three quarters of consumers feel themselves to be better served, in terms of customer centricity, at a high-street retailer’s,” says Mark Sievers, Head of Consumer Markets at KPMG.

Alongside individual advice and rapid availability of staff, there are two other key factors that head the list of major criteria for customer centricity. For 69 % of respondents it is the quality of the product and services that is crucial. An obliging returns policy and returns options were important issues for 62 % of the consumers in the sample.

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