We are customer centric only when our customers tell us we are

By Stuart Ward, Head of Sales Capability, Coca-Cola HBC 

At Coca-Cola HBC we define whether we are customer centric only when our customers tell us we are. 

Our formal customer feedback approach started 20 years ago, once per year with 1,000 customers across all channels and markets, face to face or over the phone. While it was a core performance metric for our business, with full engagement from our whole executive team, who would read all the comments, the actions could be slow to realise. 

When Covid-19 pandemic started, I remember that we simply stopped our customer satisfaction survey and used that period to reassess our approach. These were times to work shoulder to shoulder with our customers showing humility in the face of massive adversity. But these were also times to adapt and act fast. We realised that taking a sample of customers was not as inclusive as we’d wanted. Every customer has the right to give feedback, and if we only took a sample, we would still miss 80% of the opportunities that we were seeing from customers outside the sample.

As a business, our aim is to digitally connect with 100% of our customers within the next five years. We want the feedback to be fast, digital and in real time to increase the speed that we respond to our customers. 

On this basis, we began our partnership with Customer Gauge – a top ranked platform for B2B experience – in 2021. The platform was a perfect match to our commitment to drive our customer experience for all customers, to create value, while empowering our people. 

We use Customer Gauge to LISTEN to our customers in real time, UNDERSTAND their needs and ACT upon their feedback, fast, providing next generation customer experience. This way, we capture better and more actionable insights and empower our customer facing teams to drive customer centric behaviours and remove blockers with speed. For instance, we are able to pulse every touch point with our business to ask the question ‘how can we improve their experience with us and drive action, not just insight’? Having real-time feedback is just so powerful to help us fine tune and manage the change for customers.

Our vision is to be able to hear and take feedback from each and every one of our customers and follow up with them to make their experience as partners with us, better. 

That’s why I was really proud when I recently received the ‘Most EnGauged Users’ Award in Customer Gauge’s Annual Account Experience Awards on behalf of Coca-Cola HBC, being measured against some of the biggest FMCG companies in the world.  

This award, recognising the most engaged user base in terms of education and adoption of the program, is for sure a great reflection of the fact that we have deployed Customer Gauge across all of our sales teams, in all our markets, in just 8 months! But what excites me most, let alone the speed to which we are scaling it, is how our sales teams are so dedicated to following up with our customers to make their experience better today than it was yesterday.

I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart for always thinking the customer first, while adding their passion and strong capabilities to build solid, mutually successful relationships in the market. 

This is, more than anything, what we at Coca-Cola HBC are most proud of for our people!

To any customer reading this, thank you too for your gift of the feedback! And if you have not been able to give us your feedback yet, please reach out to us as we would love to capture it! We are still far from being perfect, but we’re committed to continuously doing better.