KPMG 2021 Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) survey asked consumers about their purchase preferences and experiences with brands in order to understand the drivers of two commercial outcomes: advocacy and loyalty.
This year thousands of customers from around the world, including ~3000 Australian consumers, provided key insights. The survey reports against the Six Pillars of Customer Experience Excellence which covers:
- Personalisation: using individualised attention to drive emotional connections.
- Time and effort: minimising customer effort and creating frictionless processes.
- Resolution: turning a disappointing experience into a great one.
- Integrity: being trustworthy and engendering trust.
- Expectations: managing, meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
- Empathy: understanding the customer’s circumstances to drive deep rapport.
Prioritising customer experience
Before, during and after the pandemic, companies recognise the importance of customer experience and the need to make it simpler and easier for their customers to engage with them.
The past 18 months have seen unprecedented levels of job losses and business closures driving significant financial hardship across all sectors. In Australia, this was compounded by the impacts of the cooler winter months, and higher levels of energy consumption in homes fundamentally changing the way we live and work – as a result, government, regulatory, customer and community expectations put energy retailers firmly in focus in terms of empathy. This year’s CEE results show the industry met that need, with sector performance on empathy increasing steadily since 2018.
Prolonged affordability issues will continue to place pressure on compliance delivery and drive regulatory challenges. As such, having the flexibility to tailor support to individual customer situations will require ongoing consideration.
Energy consumers are increasingly aware of, and engaged in, gaining control of their electricity and gas bills. Coupled with an intensifying competitive landscape, tighter regulation, and a growing cost base – the bottom line of energy retailers is being threatened.
Consumers are also easily convinced to switch providers. This is predominately due to price, and compared to other categories, brand loyalty for energy brands is in the bottom 25 percent of loyalty scores collected in this research.
We had a contract with them [energy provider] that prices kept increasing, and so we decided to leave them for another company. We were with them for over four years and had moved house with them, so it was disappointing that it kept happening.
How can energy retailers improve customer experience?
While differentiation through personalisation remains important to deliver a strong customer experience, empathy is becoming more closely linked to personalisation and, therefore, more important to customer experience over time.
Our positive customer advocacy and strength in customer experience comes from our continued focus on innovation, simplification and digitisation. We believe investments in customer technology, processes and communication are key to uplifting capability in delivering an engaging and seamless omni-channel experience for our customers
Integrity is also an important foundation of all experiences. People want to do business with companies that have integrity. However, organisations taking advantage of the situation by raising prices or miss-selling may quickly lose trust, and ultimately the business of their customers.
I want to feel valued – cliched perhaps but if I don't believe I and my custom is important I move on. Some companies clearly wage war against consumers for profitability and that hurts business and consumer confidence
As energy retailers face increasing call centre and online interactions, achieving consistency in customer experience across all aspects of the customer lifecycle, as well as consistency across channels, requires an integrated approach to ensure customer commitments are both met and exceeded.
This is leading to a technologically inspired revolution in the experiences that customers enjoy every day. These experiences are faster, more personalised, better informed, and humanised, setting new standards and elevating customer expectations across the board.
Customer Experience Excellence for the Energy Sector
The 2021 results show that customer experience efforts are recognised by Australian consumers. However, the energy sector has more work to do to continue to meet ever-evolving customer needs.