Daxue Consulting is a market research and management consulting firm and we have created the 7 Continents initiative to provide market research and consulting for Chinese brands going global. Our global market research for Chinese brands includes market sizing for any given region, competitor benchmarking, consumer research, mystery visiting to check local store performance, sensory analysis and so on. Here is one of our best cases.
Brief Introduction of our client
The client is a well-known Chinese financial service institution, which mainly provides inter-bank payment and settlement services and is expanding cross-border payment and overseas acceptance networks. In recent years, with the improvement of consumption levels and the awakening of brand awareness, people have become keen to buy foreign goods, so outbound tourism for shopping, overseas purchasing agents and shopping buyers for cross-border platforms have become increasingly prosperous. Most people have to go to the tax refund service center in the airport or urban area to have tax refunded after shopping, so the demand for overseas tax refund services is increasing rapidly. There are diversified tax refund approaches such as cash refunds, refunds to domestic bank card accounts or to third-party electronic payment platforms. Due to the strong demand and rapid development of the overseas tax refund market, the client actively cooperates with overseas partners to expand overseas tax rebate business.
The client is cooperating with two tax refund agencies in Europe. Consumers can use the bank card issued by our client to apply for airport tax refund, urban tax refund or APP real-time tax refund at specific outlets, and enjoy direct tax refund to the card without currency exchange fees and commission fees. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of cooperation with tax refund agencies and the level of customer satisfaction, the client commissioned Daxue Consulting to conduct on-site shop visits and analysis of its tax refund business in five major European target countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom) and put forward suggestions for improvement with its overseas partners.
Difficulties in assessing overseas tax refund services
- Wide distribution of service centers: The tax refund service centers are distributed in more than 70 cities in the 5 target European countries, and there are totally more than 200 tax refund service centers/points.
- The target tax refund points are unevenly distributed in airports, urban areas, ports, scenic spots and suburbs, making the shop visits more difficult. Some places are remote and difficult to access. Some places require specific conditions before entering, for example, people need to purchase a specific airport ticket and then are allowed to enter the tax refund center after the security check.
- High requirements for store visitors. Eligible “unannounced visitors” have to be familiar with local transportation and understand shopping and tax refund procedures. They should have the ability to travel alone and deal with emergencies. In addition, they are required to ask questions properly based on the questionnaire outline and be able to respond accordingly. Therefore, the recruitment for qualified visitors is relatively difficult.
- High requirements for English and minor languages: Different countries and regions have different languages and dialects, especially in some remote outlets, where some staff have difficulty communicating in English, which adds difficulty to the overall assessment.
- Working across time differences. Shop visitors in Europe and coordinators in China need to work together for six or seven hours of time difference. Each country needs to set up a specific person in charge for simultaneous guidance and follow-up, especially when visiting the tax refund center in the airport. the person in charge needs to be on call 24 hours according to the ticket itinerary of the shop visitor.
- Short project cycle and tight time: It takes a lot of manpower and time to complete store visits at all outlets. The Daxue Consulting project team also needs to conduct qualitative and quantitative assessments of the results of store visits, summarize and analyze all the data of various outlets in various countries, write research reports and put forward suggestions for improvement. The entire project has short time and heavy tasks.
Services provided by Daxue Consulting
- Collect detailed information of over 200 tax refund centers in 5 countries, including addresses, telephone numbers, names of cooperative agencies, tax refund requirements, etc.
- Recruit shop visitors. Daxue Consulting used its overseas channels and resources to recruit qualified store visitors who have ample time and energy, can communicate in English or local languages, have independent travel experience and the ability to adapt to changes.
- Train the shop visitors. Professional training is provided for each store visitor based on the standards of mysterious visiting, including how to inquire about the business overview of the service center, the tax refund method, the time for refunding back to the account, and the service experience.
- Assign a project leader in each country to make specific arrangements and guidance for store visitors, and carry out timely project follow-up according to shop visitors’ time and itinerary.
- After the shop visit, score each tax refund center according to customer satisfaction assessment standards and write a detailed shop visit report.
- Organize and summarize the ratings and comments of all outlets and customer satisfaction data, and analyze the market situation by country, by outlet distribution type, and by cooperative agency.
- According to the survey results, put forward practical and feasible improvement suggestions and measures.
Conclusions drawn by Daxue Consulting
- From the perspective of scores, the five European countries have a large gap in the scores of tax refund centers, of which Germany has the highest average score and France has the lowest average score.
- From the perspective of cooperation between our client and its local partners, in Germany, the client’s logo setting rate is high, and the acceptance, recommendation rate and usage rate are also the highest. The acceptance rate in France is the lowest, and the logo setting rate in the UK is the lowest.
- From the perspective of distribution outlets, the service of airport tax refund centers is better than that of urban tax refund centers. The degree of cooperation with our client is the highest at the service center after airport security check,
- From the perspective of cooperative agencies, one of the cooperative institutions has the highest score for its self-operated centers, while the average score for agency tax refund points is the lowest.
- From the perspective of service personnel, the recommendation rate of tax refund services for our client by Chinese employees is significantly higher than that of foreign employees.
Suggestions made by Daxue Consulting
- Strengthen cooperation with various tax refund agencies, optimize the tax refund system, and deepen the degree of cooperation.
- Increase the speed of tax refunds, thereby highlighting its service advantages.
- Seize the urban market. At present, the competition among competitors in airport service points is intensifying, and there is more room for development in urban areas, especially tourist cities visited most by Chinese tourists.
- Enhance brand awareness and promotion approaches. Increase the customer’s brand logo setting rate and diversify the promotion methods such as posters and brochures.
- Strengthen employees’ working capabilities. Train employees or increase Chinese employees appropriately to further promote high-quality services.