In the eyes of potential customers, Keuken Kampioen is the best in the WUA study on online orientation on buying a kitchen. In this interview, we talk to Jaap Lankamp, commercial director, and Mike Baardman, Retail Brand Manager at Keuken Kampioen. About the shift in media expenditures from TV to online, customer service, investing in CRM, and how you can be a large company but still be small in the eyes of the customer.
Jaap Lankamp and Mike Baardman, congratulations on winning this WUA study. How important is it to you to be the best in the digital arena? What role does having a winning mentality play in this?
Jaap Lankamp (JL): “In the past few years, we’ve made clever choices that helped us grow to be market leader. Winning a prize like this, is definitely a bit of recognition.”
What’s your approach, what’s going so well? What can other digital and commercial officers learn from your approach?
JL: “We don’t strive to be pioneers in everything or provide the newest products and trends. We present our products in showrooms in easily recognizable setups that would fit in most people’s homes. A recognizable, high-quality kitchen product.”
“In the past, we’d let go of the mediamix print because of the limited yield. We were a little smaller than we are now, and we spent our entire media budget on TV and online. With as the most important goal: getting the Keuken Kampioen brand name in people’s heads. That was pretty high risk: will anyone come to our stores on Sundays if we’re not advertising in regional or national newspapers that we’re open on Sundays? This change also means that you need to have your digital affairs in order. With our TV presence, we built our name, and at the same time, we put our stock in online. That was the moment Mike joined us to truly create that progress in digital.”
MB: “Three years ago, our online presence was really in its infancy. Online… it was relatively new, tricky, how do you deal with online? We took this challenge and turned it into opportunities. The online channel can be used perfectly to inform customers, to inspire them, to make them commit to you, and that’s how we use it. If a customer wants to be inspired, we’ll send them a free magazine. It doesn’t cost them anything, we make the magazine, we print it, we send it to them for free. The only thing we ask of our customers is whether we can contact them.
“When a customer walks into the store, it’s normal to address the customer, welcome them. The same thing applies to online; your customer is still your guest online. After all, the customer is looking for a kitchen, and might have any number of questions. We can answer them immediately.”
JL: “Three years ago, when we started our transition, selling a kitchen online was unheard of. It wasn’t done at all, so you’re building on your online presence despite knowing you won’t be able to sell anything with it in the beginning. It’s quite a big step to take as a company, because of course it does require budget and hours. Online supports our traditional stores. The internet is invaluable in the buying process, and supports the in-store sales.”
From a consumer’s perspective, there shouldn’t be any difference (anymore) between service and sales. Are you able to break through the silos at Keuken Kampioen or are you planning on doing so?
JL: “When we ask customers to assess us right after the sale, they give us a 9.1. That’s incredibly high. It’s also just fun to buy a kitchen. At Keuken Kampioen, the store is fun, you’re pleasantly welcomed, we really take the time for our customers, we identify the customer’s wishes and talk through the possibilities, we make a 3D design, and explain the entire process (measuring, delivery, assembly, and possible service).”
“But a kitchen is an incredibly complicated product. There are so many separate parts that so many mistakes can be made with, so it’s difficult to sell and install this type of product flawlessly in a single try. When it goes wrong, it’s often a mistake made in the communication process.”
How are you planning to lower your error margins? The customer whose kitchen process goes wrong is still someone that should tell their neighbors and other parents at school that you’re a good company to do business with…
JL: “We invest a lot in our new CRM system, in which the solution to the service question lies. Then it’s about recording all agreements, the planning, timing, communication. The fact that something went wrong isn’t bad per se, but as customer, you immediately need to get the feeling that things are going to be okay. So it’s a question of communication: everything will turn out fine.”
“Coolblue is one party we looked at; we also spoke with the CRM provider who does work for them. We started doing our internal communication through Google Apps. We want to do more chatting, less emailing, making sure everyone knows everything, and that questions are answered more quickly. So the lines of communication within the company need to be short, and everyone should know both each other and the customer.”
MB: “We’re also providing the customers with increasingly better information online. How does the delivery of the kitchen work? How does the assembly work? By providing more information beforehand, we create more clarity. This prevents miscommunication, thereby also preventing a large part of the mistakes made. Does a mistake happen? Then you can easily find our contact information online. Based on this contact, we can quickly provide service.”
What’s the role of customer research, and putting the customer at the center, in your daily work, and in the teams that you’re responsible for?
JL: “We’ve been working with the NPS score within DMG for a long time, because our mission is not just to be market leader in the sale of kitchens, but also in customer satisfaction. It’s something we work on every day. Nearly all complaints that we get now are in the communication track, that the customer feels like some agreements aren’t met, sometimes in very simple things.”
“Often it just takes one extra call to prevent a lot of frustration. With the volume Keuken Kampioen is at, that means quite a lot. So now we’re looking at what digital technology we can use to get the right bit of information to the customer at the right time. Because the computer never forgets anything. We want to automatically update the customer about the progress on a complaint or question. That’s not even the trickiest bit, it just costs a lot of money. We chose to really invest in online service and tooling, and that means our developments are progressing rapidly.”
Which KPIs do you use in digital, what dials do you turn to excel digitally?
MB: “It’s about having a good mix of several KPIs. Hard ones like website visits, conversion, and paid vs non-paid, but also softer KPIs such as online visibility.
“For our digital marketing, we feel the relationship between paid and non-paid visits is really important. In the past few years, we’ve worked hard to get more organic traffic. Another important KPI is conversion. If you’ve got the customer on your website, it’s great if you can convert them there as well. Recently, we almost doubled our conversion with a CRO track.”
JL: “We also look at the phases in the customer journey. Someone requesting a magazine is clearly orienting themselves, someone making a 3D sketch is a lot further, and might know more or less what they want. You’ll understand that the latter, on average, has a higher intention to buy in the short term than the former.”
What are your digital challenges for 2018?
JL: “I recently saw a Google demo at Technical University Eindhoven, where setups were taken from a flyer and projected onto a wall, and adjustments in size were done automatically; when you’re there, it really starts to mean something to the customer. Because in the end, Google already knows what color kitchen you want. It’s already been analyzed from your search history, and especially if you’re actively looking at things. I once saw a Google phone that can measure a room with a photo. It’s bizarre how fast technology is progressing. That step, from the store to online, is going to be taken in the kitchen industry as well, and it might go faster than we’d ever thought. This is where our biggest challenge is.”
“In the past 10 years, store visits have gone down while turnover has increased. You need to ensure the quality of your visit is always getting higher and more focused. And that’s in the opening hours – our stores are physically open to customers from 9 to 9, every day. And then we make sure there’s someone there for you. So offline, you’re very close to what’s happening in the digital world.”
MB: “And if you make an appointment online, you get a personalized email reply from the salesperson your appointment will be with. That also requires a lot of technology, the availability of that salesperson has to be programmed somewhere. It’s a complicated system, but it’s a system that contributes to customer-friendliness.”
What do you think will be the Next Big Thing in digital in the kitchen industry?
JL: “I did a workshop here in which we got to use different kinds of glasses. Both VR and Augmented Reality. There’s a future in that. I also used glasses with which you could partially assemble your kitchen, open your own cabinets. It wouldn’t surprise me if we have our first glasses here in two years’ time.”
MB: “We know that almost everyone starts out by searching online before they go to the stores. If you have a relevant application for VR or AR, you strengthen the connection between online and store. I think there’s no escaping a future in which we’ll sell kitchens online – although it remains difficult, because generally, clients really do need some advice. A kitchen is quite an expensive product, and I don’t know many people who buy, say, cars online without visiting a showroom first. It’s the same with kitchens.”
JL: “I think there’ll always be a human being to check and dot the i’s. A kitchen is a tailored product, and there’s always a fear that it won’t fit. In the end, assembly will always be done by human hands. The time we as humans spend on the customer in the pre-sale track will become shorter, and that’s where the gain is.”
What’s your ultimate goal and dream to achieve in business?
JL: “The ultimate dream for Keuken Kampioen is to become even bigger, to keep growing with a few more new locations in the Netherlands, to retain and strengthen the market leader position. In the Netherlands, there have been companies in the kitchen industry that died from bad service, but sold 1 in 4 kitchens in the country in their better days. That’s really unheard of with a single brand. If you want to be the biggest, you have to beat that historical percentage. And that’s only possible with an incredibly high level of customer satisfaction. One thing that’s never been done successfully is to expand a kitchen retail format internationally. That’s my dream.”
MB: “We really work for an amazing company, and I share Jaap’s vision. Following through on international growth, while also being the most customer-friendly retail company in the Netherlands, that’s my ultimate dream.”