Retailer Transforms Shopping Experience
CHALLENGE: Improve customer satisfaction by revamping customer service policies while enhancing operational efficiencies.
SOLUTION: A top-to-bottom strategic analysis of customer service and implementation of a multichannel approach to transforming services and operations.
RESULTS: Increased customer satisfaction driven by highly improved services and an enhanced consumer experience.
As one of Europe’s leading furniture and household goods retailers, Conforama operates 181 stores in France, as well as 50 additional stores in Spain, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Croatia. Conforama has 13,400 employees and achieved €2.9 billion in sales in 2009.
by Pierre Kalfon
Conforama, a leading furniture and household goods retailer in France, wanted a better relationship with its customers. Working with us, Conforama conducted a top-to-bottom strategic analysis of its operations and implemented new services policies that are transforming the customer shopping experience.
For more than 40 years, Conforama built its leadership position in southern and western Europe by focusing on two key values: low prices and local presence. Responding to changes in consumer habits and expectations, the company decided to add a third major focus: services.
To achieve this goal, Conforama needed to enhance its service offerings as well as improve operational execution, while never losing sight of maximizing customer satisfaction.
Service comes first
Conforama chose CSC to provide the technical and retail expertise needed for the transformation. Philippe Morel, Conforama’s director of Programmes and Operations, says, “We contacted CSC as we knew there would be a strong impact on the IT system and we wanted to cooperate with a partner who would be able to support us from start to finish.”
CSC began by defining the services policy and then building the services and tools to be implemented. In the initial stages, an international benchmark survey identified and prioritized the services expected by customers of a large brand name in a specialized retail sector. The analysis showed that Conforama was offering most of the key services required, such as delivery, credit, and after-sales services, but these services lacked visibility.
The research also revealed that Conforama would greatly benefit from non-sales services, such as improved product delivery, which would contribute to brand image and increase customer loyalty. “In developing non-sales services, our focus has been on strengthening our bond with customers, thereby promoting one of our major assets, our local presence,” says Morel.
A multichannel approach
Conforama’s stores and staff are its biggest strengths and remain the cornerstones of the company. We examined what it takes to deliver a more positive customer experience by defining the services that would support customers through their entire dealings with the company, from gathering information before a purchase through after-sales services.
With more than 180 retail outlets in France, Conforama also operates about 50 stores in other parts of Europe, including Spain, Switzerland, and Portugal. A multichannel approach to boosting the customer experience was implemented, and customers now have improved access to services on Conforama’s website and in stores, as well as better telecommunications support through a new shared call center.
We translated Conforama’s strategic direction into four highly operational areas, for which we then defined the practicalities and economic viability. For one, in-store services such as product information and check-out stations are better positioned to support the shopping experience. In addition, the physical layout of warehouses has been optimized. Operationally, special attention is being paid to offering goods, delivering them, and after-sales services. For example, shipping rates have been simplified and it is much easier for customers to schedule delivery appointments.
We also supported the creation of a new department in charge of coordinating and developing Conforama’s services. Once each service offering was designed, CSC assisted with its implementation. We drew up the specifications for the agency in charge of the visual and architectural appearance of the stores and supported the selection process of the service provider for the new call center. CSC was also integral in setting up the organization that manages and maintains the company’s services policies.
A cultural transformation
The transformation taking place at Conforama also extends beyond its services and stores. “This strengthening of our services is a cultural transformation for the group, which we are not underestimating. In parallel with the deployment, we are paying a great deal of attention to a change management process that allows all of our employees to be involved with this policy,” Morel says.
CSC’s coordination with Conforama allowed the project to be managed at a sustained pace and completed within budget, with just 18 months between initial conceptualization to fitting out the first store. “CSC was able to understand our customer relations issues and assimilate our corporate culture in order to provide us with support,” says Morel.
PIERRE KALFON is a partner in CSC’s management consulting practice in the EMEA region.