Hilton, Vanguard, and Walgreens Talk Customer Experience

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It's all about customer experience.
It's all about customer experience.

Customer experience and its influence on brand loyalty was the overarching theme today at the Forrester Forum for Customer Experience Executives.

In her keynote, Kerry Bodine, VP and principle analyst at Forrester, discussed the importance of genuine product innovation. Calling attention to companies such as ZipCar and Bertucci's Italian Restaurant chain, Bodine says that the key to customer experience success, especially in terms of building customer loyalty, is differentiation.

“If you want to innovate customer experience, you need to triangulate consumer needs, business model, and brand,” Bodine said. “It's hard but not impossible.”

John T.A. Vanderslice, global head of luxury and lifestyle brands at Hilton Worldwide, reaffirmed the importance of innovation in regards to luxury brands. Vanderslice discussed how Hilton's Waldorf Astoria hotel chain is focused on innovation with its use of technology, mobile apps, and customer service.

The conversation continued with Paul Heller, managing director at Vanguard, who discussed the company's “why, how, and who” strategy for customer loyalty. In the Q&A following his speech, Heller addressed how Vanguard maintains a mission-driven focus.

“With any culture, you tend to attract customer that relate to your brand, your identity,” Heller said. “We get some really great stories. We tell stories all the time. This is what we want. This is about our founding. We certainly take very opportunity we can [to tell these stories].”

Graham Atkinson, senior VP and chief marketing and customer experience officer at Walgreens, said the company uses a three-step strategy to promote company innovation:

1. “Delivering a [wellness-focused] experience” by providing a wide arrangement of products

2. “Transforming community pharmacy” by bringing pharmacists from behind the counter to interact with customers

3. “Creating an unprecedented global platform,” with which Walgreens hopes to create the first global, pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise.

“The final punch line is, when we think of our business now, we think of our great customer experience strategy that benefits customer at every touchpoint,” Atkinson said. “It's not just a good customer experience strategy; it's a great business strategy.”

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