Customer Centricity during a Chocolate Experience

I’m always amazed how some marketing fundamentals are so often overlooked. Although Customer Centricity may sound complex to implement, the basics are pretty straight forward as you can read below.

Every year in April the Löfbergs have a family reunion in France. As we are pretty scattered, this is always a logistical feat to pull off with members travelling down from Sweden and up from Italy.

I have the easy trip with just a 140 km drive. Coming from Belgium, I obviously have to bring some Belgian chocolates with me. And to make sure not to play favorites – every lady gets her personal Ballotin.

The Bitter Experience

Traditionally I would just pop into the Leonidas chocolate store near my grocery shop. Here is what happened in 2017. After having selected and paid for the 4 Ballotins, the storekeeper pop the chocolates boxes into one nice Leonidas branded bag. I asked whether I could have four separate individual bags. The answer was an incredulous “No, the policy is one bag per transaction”. Only after threatening to cancel the transaction and restart with 4 separate ones did the shopkeeper finally relent. Needless to say that it left a bittersweet aftertaste.

customer centricity

The Sweet Experience

This year I made the easy decision not to give my business to Leonidas. I ended up at Neuhaus in a nearby shopping mall. Even before ordering I posed the dreaded question. “If I buy 4 ballotins can I get separate bags?”. The shopkeeper looked at me as if I were crazy. So I ended up not only with the 4 small bag but even a larger one to carry all in one.

As I was paying, she asked me whether I was part of the Neuhaus loyalty program. My wallet has for some time stopped accepting any more plastic, so my standard response is to ask whether they keep the card in the store. She smiled and said all you need to do is to tap in your cell number on the dedicated display. No card, no tedious sign up, no request for additional personal info: a sign up scheme built as it should.

Customer Centricity Pays

So bottomline. One ballotin at Leonidas goes for 13.90€ per 500gr. The 500gr Neuhaus ballotin is sold at 36.00€ a 250% premium (without counting the additional parking costs). So why was I not only happy to pay for the premium and will do so also in 2019?

The simple reason is that Neuhaus is focused on creating an experience that goes beyond the simple purchase. They have dissected the customer journey and understood a simple but fundamental insight. People don’t buy chocolates. People gift chocolates. Once they have grasped this they went ahead and ensured that nothing would impair that special moment when the chocolates symbolize gratitude and love.

Developing true Customer Centricity within an organisation will always give a strong competitive edge. It will sweat hard work requiring a corporate commitment at all levels but it will pay off. At least it did for Neuhaus and myself.

An Unexpected Tale of Two Belgian Chocolatiers