In our recent Retail Spotlight, we spoke to Diego Sebastian, Customer Experience Director at Mango.
Diego joins Futr’s Retail Lead, Simone Oloman, to reflect on how retail has changed and share his insight on how to provide an exceptional customer experience. In addition to his responsibilities as the Customer Experience Director, Diego is also director of communication at Mango.
Prior to Mango, Diego had previously worked for the well-known Spanish retail start-up, Hawkers—one of the first Unicorns in Spain. During his time there, Diego was the Innovation and Retail Director. He also spent several years working for Apple as one of the Innovation Directors. Diego shares why Mango was the challenge he craved.
“Working for a start-up was thrilling and they had a beautiful disruptive concept, but I realised I’m a bit of a corporate animal and I craved a bigger challenge. For me, Mango was super appealing, because it’s a huge company that at the same time was still somehow transitioning from a family owned business into this huge corporate monster! They adopted what we call ‘collective intelligence’ – hiring exceptional people with the right expertise and knowledge, which pushed Mango outside its boundaries.”
Learning how to truly listen to the customer
Customers mean everything to Mango. For Diego, one of the most fundamental things for a retailer to thrive and prosper is learning how to really listen to the customer and putting those learnings into action.
“You can read in any McKinsey paper that a good customer experience is having excellent customer service or using data – but for me, learning to really listen to the customer and putting those learnings into action is key.
“And the things that you put into action are not necessarily the typical friction points that you have experienced with a customer. It’s not necessarily listening to complaints to solve the complaint, it’s listening to be able to anticipate the desires of the customer and at the same time react, minimise and eliminate all the pain points possible. If you work the right way, every single pain point could actually be a winning point because you can shift it 180 degrees – you can reinterpret the problems and the winning can be a really good differentiation point with competitors.”
You need a brand and you need to be purposeful
Reflecting on how consumers were pre-pandemic, Diego points out that consumers are now much more conscious and because of this, it’s important to keep your brand purposeful. The market is saturated with choice so what really resonates with today’s consumers is buying from brands whose values and purpose are aligned with their own.
“The consumer is shifting from an uninformed consumer to a conscious consumer. Obviously, the informed consumer is someone that compares and knows everything about the product and company, but now the conscious consumer uses all this information to decide the kind of product or the kind of brand they want to buy from – if the purpose and values of the company are aligned with the beliefs and the values of the consumer. And this is something that is quite new.
“One of the biggest things that is changing (some great brands are articulating this equation in a really good way) is that you need to stick to your values. You need a brand and you need to be purposeful. Then critically, you need to use this purpose to create differentiation because the product itself is no different.
“We’re all selling almost the same thing. We are not delivering any amazing technological advances or selling a cashmere sweater that is way better than other brands – we are all almost selling the same. But when you do that your purpose as a brand should be totally different. For example, Mango prefers to be a little bit more expensive, but always balancing the best quality we can deliver.
“We don’t want to fight against these fast fashion brands like Shein. And this is why all personal values are important because then, you can be different to others.”
Fitting the needs of both new and old customers
Diego explains how making things convenient and easy for the customer is key – particularly with the ever-increasing adoption of technological advancements.
“Of course, it is great that we have all these omnichannel experiences and that retailers are embracing technology more. But it is absolutely crucial that we make things easy and convenient for the consumer.
“Now more than ever, we must be creators. People are always looking for references, and this is why they love to check and follow influencers – they are looking for creators. We can deliver 3000 products per season, but if you’re not creating the offer, and you’re not somehow creating beautiful storytelling about the style – you won’t really fit the needs of the customer.
“Equally, it’s important to be crystal clear on how we are and how we do things – not trying to sell to anyone that we are perfect. We’re not perfect, but we are committed to doing the best we can to evolve and get better. The customer needs to feel that and this is something that is not an option, it’s a must.”
Changing the way in which you engage with customers
After a year like no other, Diego shares how Mango has evolved and changed the way in which they engage with customers not only through social networks but through the innovation community that they have created.
“The last two years have been changing from a unidirectional voice to a directional one. We have listened way more to the customer to ensure the customer feels engaged with us as a brand.
“We have a huge number of people from multiple countries that are helping us every single day to design new products and to share their opinion about the way we communicate. In our campaigns, we talk about things from pure product creation to communication, but we cover most of the different steps in our value creation.”
Using metrics and leveraging data to improve customer experience strategies
At Mango, a data-driven approach is key to measuring the success of customer engagement. Beyond using typical metrics such as NPS and satisfaction scores to evaluate the customer experience, Diego shares the significance of overlapping the different metrics. Here he tells us about all the different dashboards each store has to ensure Mango keeps constantly evolving.
“It’s crucial to have proper qualitative information and see this data in a mood dashboard. For example, if you’re working in the Mango store on Oxford Street and you see that your NPS score is higher than other stores – if you don’t have any insights about why you’re performing better, how can you improve? So, it is fundamental to give visibility to all these metrics.
“It’s easy to waste a lot of resources and time to capture information – particularly if you can’t change that info! It’s like understanding in real time that the colour orange is not a colour that is the best seller – but we are not able to change the colours, from what it was.
“For the past two years, we have been building the infrastructure to capture all this data – it is the golden information which we will use to put into action. We can really move the needle and make the difference! It’s always a learning process. But we are learning a lot because we believe in constant evolution as a company.”
Overcoming the challenge of keeping customers engaged
We asked Diego what some of the biggest challenges he had faced when it came to keeping customers engaged and how he overcame them.
“It’s a constant challenge, to try to transmit the value proposition. And at the same time, to try to be consistent in the different channels, because we have more than 2000 stores around the world.
“Sometimes you have a remarkable and promising image through your social networks or e-commerce, but the customers might want to purchase the product in store – which isn’t always the best representation of the brand. Trends transmit your value proposition and your thought process so having multiple channels and articulating that consistency can be pretty complicated.”
Advice to other retailers
We asked Diego what advice he would give to other retailers looking to retain customers.
“I have worked for many different companies and I can confidently say there is no perfect formula! But firstly, I would advise all retailers to try not to replicate any other brand. It’s really important because we are in a world where consumers have so much knowledge about different brands.
“Secondly, I think it’s great to try to create a community to engage the customer (there is a lot to learn from these communities!) You can also achieve amazing results when you make the customer feel that they are heard and part of the company.
“But crucially, being able to anticipate what your customers would like, and surprising them is also important. Similar to how you would surprise someone in your family with a gift, rather than asking them what they want. Although it’s about understanding and listening to your customers, you also want to surprise them with something that they didn’t know they wanted.
“Lastly, avoid any over-promising. If you promise something, deliver!”
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