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Big retailers share their CX strategies

Effective customer experience strategies have a big impact on business success. Hear what Carnival Corp., Ritual Cosmetics and Ashley Stewart have to say about CX.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Having the right CX strategies in place can make the difference between having satisfied and disgruntled customers.

Just ask Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp., which operates nine different cruise brands, who has firsthand knowledge that meeting and exceeding customer expectations isn't always smooth sailing.

The cruise lines have a loyalty program where customers can accrue points for perks on cruises, but not all customers are happy with the program, Donald said. Cunard customers accrue points faster on the ultra-luxury cruises than Carnival customers do, so when a Cunard customer is able to enjoy the same perks for one cruise that a Carnival customer earned over many cruises, Carnival customers aren't always accepting of it. This is an issue that the company still needs to smooth out, Donald said.

On the other hand, there are plenty of CX strategies that Carnival Corp. has in place that create success for the company, such as good listening skills and technology, Donald said.

"If you listen carefully, the marketplace will reveal itself," he said.

The cruise experience is a complex enterprise that's like being in a city at sea where customers have plenty of entertainment, food and retail options. But to serve that market effectively, Carnival Corp. has to exceed customer expectations, and to do that, business leaders need to listen to customers as well as the company's 150,000 employees.

"[Employees] will tell you what you need to do to deliver a great experience to the guests," Donald said.

On the technology side, many of Carnival Corp.'s Princess ships are outfitted with sensors. Passengers are given a wearable, silver dollar-sized device called an Ocean Medallion that lets them access a variety of real-time services, including the ability to automatically unlock their cabin door, order food and beverages and locate friends and family on board. Access to services is supplemented further by a mobile phone app.

"You could be at breakfast and waitstaff will call you by name to remind you that you have yoga in five minutes or cancel it if that's your preference," Donald said. "It's a seamless and customized travel experience."

Ritual Cosmetics

Another company with successful CX strategies is Ritual Cosmetics, a fast-growing retailer of natural cosmetics with over 650 stores in more than 25 countries.

The company looks for the ability to engage with people when hiring and does a lot of training and education, said Marjolein Westerbeek, president at Ritual Cosmetics.

"In our stores you will notice that with the people who work for us, no one jumps on you with a hard sales pitch," she said. "You are offered a cup of tea, there's a water island for a one-minute meditation and a hand massage. We want to be part of people's lives."

Listening is key to Westerbeek's success as an executive.

I learn every day from people who shop at our stores and how we can do a better job.
Marjolein WesterbeekPresident, Ritual Cosmetics

"I learn every day from people who shop at our stores and how we can do a better job," she said.

Ritual Cosmetics, like the other companies on the panel, is a Salesforce customer. The CRM platform helps the cosmetics company develop initiatives in store and online designed to give customers more of what they want, Westerbeek said. The Salesforce implementation at Rituals -- including Commerce Cloud, Success Cloud and other Salesforce services -- includes integration with Google Analytics 360 and the Google Cloud Platform, giving the company a complete view of every customer interaction across all channels.

Ashley Stewart looking for a B2B fit

Fashion retailer Ashley Stewart's CX strategy is to take a more personalized approach with its customers, CEO James C. Rhee said.

"We don't treat them as customers," Rhee said. "We're saying, 'This is your world, and I'm going to be your best friend.'"

Ashley Stewart has big plans to grow the brand and recently partnered with celebrity Whoopi Goldberg, who is selling a new line of DUBGEE brand clothing she designed at the stores.

The retailer is using Salesforce and other technology to move the business beyond its current B2C model to also include B2B distribution.

"We want to amalgamate our buying power and influence," Rhee said. "Technology can help us show bigger partners and bigger companies that we have a lot of influence. Gen Z gets its right away, but it's taking more time for the bigger companies."

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