Australian consumer expectations have gone ‘back to basics’ as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with an increased focus on home gyms and offices, digital retail and alcohol, according to a new report from KPMG.
The KPMG Customer Experience Excellence report surveys over 20,000 people globally to evaluate which brands are delivering the top customer service. While the leading brands in 2018 and 2019 were dominated by airlines and financial services organisations, the research conducted at the height of national lockdown (from March to May 2020) has seen a shift in sentiment towards safety, security, transparency and reliable delivery.
The top three brands for customer experience in Australia, as selected by Australian consumers were First Choice Liquor, IKEA and Afterpay.
Amanda Hicks, KPMG’s National Managing Partner, Brand and Marketing, commented: “In times of upheaval, it’s probably not surprising consumer focus has moved back to basics. But what Australian consumers consider essential – compared to their counterparts across the globe – highlights unique immediate and horizon opportunities for local brands and businesses.”
“During the peak of national COVID restrictions, Australian consumers naturally interacted less with certain sectors, such as insurance companies or airlines; and instead shifted to the new “COVID shutdown essentials” such as home office and gym equipment suppliers. And we can see their expectations also changed in terms of defining excellent customer experiences, with a real focus on reliability, safety-first, and value. Looking at our findings through a COVID-19 lens, companies which were able to maintain a level of commercial cadence, the rhythm associated with how customers and organisations transact and interact, ranked highest,” she added.
Leveraging Australia’s soft spot for alcohol alongside a quick response in customer cadence to the COVID-19 crisis, First Choice Liquor is Australia’s CX leader for 2020. According to the report, respondents noted that First Choice Liquor got the basics right over that last twelve months, with customers highlighting product range, availability, value for money and an enjoyable purchase experience led by friendly, cheerful and helpful staff. IKEA benefited from the trend of Australians using their time in lockdown to set up home offices, gyms or generally upgrade their immediate environment, meeting the increased demand because customers found the transition to IKEA's website seamless and easy to navigate. As digital shopping became the avenue for Australians to interact with brands, survey respondents noted that Afterpay enabled the transition to eCommerce as seamlessly as possible.
Other organisations recognised by Australian consumers for the excellence of their customer service during the pandemic included the top three improvers:
Sudeep Gohil, Partner, KPMG Customer, Brand and Marketing Advisory, commented: “COVID-19 presents challenges to all organsiations, as well as also opportunities. The inclusion of NSW Health as a key improver that rose to the challenge of the time demonstrates that organisations with a with a coherent, consistent intent across a “connected enterprise” stand out.”
“This throws light on the need for organisations to put the customer at the heart of what they do. Australian businesses must leverage their ability to adapt and be resilient, embrace technology and trust their teams to put their customers’ needs first and foremost. This will bear fruit long after the pandemic is over,” he said.
For eleven years, KPMG member firm professionals have been asking consumers about their individual experiences with brands. Over that time, more than 385,000 consumers have been interviewed and almost 3,500 brands have been measured, providing about 4 million individual evaluations across 34 countries to support expertise in customer experience best practice.
The research for this report was conducted via an online survey methodology, completed in March and May this year. A nationally representative consumer sample was targeted with 2505 Australian consumers polled on brands they had interacted with witting the past two months.
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