Manuela Pifani, Asda

Winner Manuela

Manuela Pifani

Senior Director of Customer Experience & Insights


United Kingdom

Manuela is one of four finalists to receive special commendation by our panel, recognising her achievements in the field of customer insight. 

Joining Asda in December 2020, Manuela set to work to help the supermarket giant with its ambition to become #2 market share in the grocery sector. To enable this, she set customer customer goals of achieving #2 in brand perception and store and online customer experience within three years (December 2023) - a plan that was shared by the exec at the Q1 2021 Asda Conference, and with 3,000 head office leaders and store managers.

The work she has achieved in the subsequent 20 months has been significant. One of her main projects has been to create a bigger, better and stronger customer experience & insights function. This has seen Manuela expand the team from 8 to 30 people; upgrade the basic and manual Voice of the Customer capabilities which supported the Tell Asda programme; launch a new online customer community panel, a regular customer listening programme and an ongoing Mindset Tracker to better understand customers; and overhaul its entire insight approach from being heavily agency-dependent to a new hands-on and immersive co-creation design thinking methodology, collaborating with customers to co-ideate and co-design solutions and value propositions.

Elsewhere, she has spearheaded the creation of new customer KPIs from head office to store-level, encouraging the exec team to link them to bonuses alongside the existing sales and profit measures. She has been instrumental in the design of new propositions including the development and launch of the new Asda Rewards loyalty programme and app, and has been influential in recession-busting initiatives such as the Dropped & Locked proposition, which reduced the price of >100 family favourite and essential products.

She has also made it a priority to win the hearts and minds of Asda leaders by progressively embedding a customer-centric culture. This has seen her introduce a customer mindsets update at the monthly Leaders Group; launch a fortnightly Customer Soundbites email with highlights on new customer insights and trends with links to deeper documents; and the use of ‘customer and colleague stories’ to bring to life critical experience aspects in to facilitate decisions on actions needed.

The impact of such extensive customer-centric projects has been dramatic. Store NPS has shown robust improvement, and there has been a progressive increase in grocery market share, already reaching its #2 goal for online grocery sales. The Asda Rewards app is currently the #1 downloaded free app for both Apple and Android, with 2 million customers already registered. And it is bucking the trend of declining value and price perception which blights the Big 4 supermarkets and the discounters too, becoming the only grocer to post an improvement in customer satisfaction with price. 

I'm truly proud of what I have achieved – for our customers, who are benefitting of an ever-improving experience and value proposition; for my team, who have grown in skills and confidence, as well as in employee engagement; and yes, also for me, because I’m motivated by making things happen and seeing the results of my efforts translated in better outcomes for those around me.

Judges' praise for Manuela:

"Manuela’s focus on shifting customer listening from being an external agency-led effort to being a key insights driver within the organisation was a key activity, moving to information-gathering across many different listening posts and methodologies, and leveraging what was learned to help inform, educate and motivate employees. Further, her ability to utilise these insights to design and implement specific programmes targeted to eliminating the pain points that were identified appear to have been significant contributors to the organisation's ability to quickly and significantly shift customer perceptions and behaviours and translate these behaviours into business results linked to management’s original remit for CX." - Michael Hinshaw

“What Manuela Pifani has done for Asda is brilliant and something that even the CX leaders with experience can learn from. She not only has taken the systems and technologies necessary to improve the operations of the organisation when it comes to customers, thus making sure that the minimum customer expectations are met, but she, incredibly wisely, took into account the human side of the customers and their desire for participation on demand by creating avenues for the customer to communicate with the company, but also understood the needed integration of CX, EX, UX and a multi-modal model to interact with the customers and reward them for their commitments to being Asda customers. This is a brilliant and incredibly rich and market-advanced programme that Manuela has every right to be proud of and that all others can learn from.  This is someone I would love to learn from.” - Paul Greenberg

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