The COVID-19 crisis is already changing consumer expectations and has an impact on what customers expect from companies and organizations. In uncertain times, customers have a greater need for reliable brands and are also more critical about the way companies serve them.
ZAVENTEM - 03/08/2020 - Consumers worldwide believe that they will live very differently in the near future. They feel that they are more vulnerable, less safe and have less control than in the past, so they expect brands to be better, safer, more easily accessible and to offer more 'value for money' than ever before. Companies that best capture these needs of their customers score highly in terms of customer experience. This is evident from KPMG’s third Global Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) Survey, which surveyed more than 100,000 consumers and focused on the new reality and impact of COVID-19 on customer loyalty, expectations and experience.
2,537 Belgian consumers participated in the survey, with 153 brands active in Belgium being rated across ten different sectors, including banking, insurance, retail, energy and the public sector. Of these, Argenta, Colruyt and Zalando emerged from the study as the companies that are best meeting the latest customer needs and expectations.
COVID-19 has had an immediate and likely lasting impact on customer behavior, which has changed fundamentally across all sectors in recent months. Customers have become more thoughtful and selective in their choices and have adjusted their expectations accordingly. The KPMG CEE study shows that priorities have shifted to health and safety, but also to convenience and reliability. What used to be considered a great customer experience is no longer good enough and companies are being forced to change their approach. Authenticity, reliability and transparency are increasingly the drivers that determine consumer preferences.
"As a result of the CEE study, KPMG has a benchmarking tool at its disposal to advise companies on how best to respond to changing customer expectations. By combining CEE insights with other data and setting up customer feedback sessions, KPMG’s Customer Advisory Team helps to develop updated strategies to address specific customer experience challenges and ways to improve customer satisfaction, loyalty and efficient investments in customer focus," says Patrick Maes, Head of Customer Advisory Services at KPMG Belgium.
The CEE study is based on KPMG's ‘Six Pillars of Experience Excellence’ model, used to understand and improve customer behavior through a multidimensional approach.
The model offers insight into a universal set of six qualities or ‘pillars’ that are inextricably interwoven, providing a powerful mechanism for organizations to understand their customers’ experience across channels, industries and customer journeys. Leading organizations score excellently on each pillar, showing that they have mastered this approach.
The first pillar of Experience Excellence is integrity. Companies must demonstrate that they act with integrity and put the interests of the customer first. Organizations must also proactively look for solutions to customer problems. This shows determination, which is the second pillar. Thirdly, companies must meet - and even dare to exceed - customer expectations. Empathy is the fourth pillar, whereby companies show understanding for the personal situation and concerns of the customer. The fifth pillar is the company’s understanding of specific customer needs and expectations. Customer effort is the final pillar, where companies try to remove obstacles for customers and ensure a fast and accessible service.
In this year's CEE survey, the top brands in each sector exceeded the market average score for each of the six pillars, tending to outperform market averages in these pillars by between 10 and 12 percent.
Patrick Maes, Head of Customer, Sales and Marketing Advisory Services at KPMG Belgium, summarizes the observations of his team in recent months: "Overall, KPMG notes that price has increasingly become a determining factor for brand loyalty within certain product categories. In other product groups, the importance of the 'customer experience' offered clearly dominates. This polarization is striking and has a major influence on the way companies should organize marketing, sales and customer service."
In addition, the extent to which products and services can easily be purchased and returned online or offline has become an essential element in how customers view relationships with companies. The importance of ethics - the way companies deal with customers, employees and society - has also strongly increased.
Worldwide, 12 of the best-performing brands are financial organizations. In Belgium, the financial sector also scores better than average. The logistics sector - more specifically, home deliveries - shows an increase of 6 percent, indicating that it is also meeting customer expectations in times of COVID-19.
The study also shows interesting trends in the energy and water sector, in telephony and in public services.
For eleven years, professionals within the global KPMG network have been questioning consumers about their individual experiences with brands. In that time, more than 385,000 consumers have been interviewed and about 3,500 brands have received a CEE score. This equates to about 4 million individual evaluations of best practices in the area of customer experience. This year alone, we have heard the opinions of more than 100,000 consumers in 27 markets. This is the first time that Belgian consumers have also been included in the survey.
In Belgium, 2,537 consumers participated in the survey in the period between 09/04/2020 and 25/04/2020. Across ten sectors, 153 brands were scored. Consumers were asked to score only those brands with which they came into contact in the two months prior to the survey, for example through the purchase of a product or a service, but also through a website visit or a question for a helpdesk.
© 2021 KPMG Advisory, a Belgian civil CVBA/SCRL and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved.