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Global consumers seek more personalisation to improve experience, but brands are lacking on empathy, KPMG reveals

KPMG case study on Global consumers behavior

David Conway, Director at KPMG Nunwood, comments on Global consumers seek more personalisation.

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KPMG in the UK


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Travel & hotels, non-grocery retail and financial services are the industries paving the way in terms of customer experience globally, according to the latest research by KPMG International and the firm’s Global Customer Centre of Excellence (CoE).

The latest report – Customer First. Customer Obsessed– which surveyed over 84,000 consumers across 20 countries, found that those three sectors (travel & hotels, non-grocery retail and financial services) dominated top-ranking positions in 19 of the 20 countries* analysed.

Travel & hotel brands came top in nine markets; non-grocery retail led in six, and financial services claimed four top-positions. In the UK specifically, it was first direct that British consumers considered best for customer experience1, followed closely by Monzo, second, and Lush, third.

Six out of 20 brands retained their previous number one position in their respective countries this year, including: Singapore Airlines, ÖAMTC, Ernster, Martinus, first direct and Navy Federal Credit Union. Moreover, every brand that topped the analysis this year in their respective markets, featured in the top-20 in the preceding year’s analysis.

KPMG’s Customer Experience ‘Hall of fame’ – most effective brands in delivering great customer experience from the perspective of over 84,000 consumers:


 Country*  Brand  Sector


Singapore Airlines

Travel & Hotels



Travel & Hotels


Verdemar Supermercado

Grocery Retail

 Czech Republic

Air Bank

Financial Services



Travel & Hotels



Travel & Hotels



Travel & Hotels

 Hong Kong

Singapore Airlines

Travel & Hotels



Non-Grocery Retail



Non-Grocery Retail


Fiesta Americana

Travel & Hotels


Van der Valk Hotels

Travel & Hotels

 New Zealand


Financial Services



Non-Grocery Retail


iSpot (Apple)

Non-Grocery Retail


Samsung Store

Non-Grocery Retail


Singapore Airlines

Travel & Hotels



Non-Grocery Retail


first direct

Financial Services


Navy Federal Credit Union

Financial Services


Commenting on the findings, David Conway, Director at KPMG Nunwood, said:

“The quality of customer experience is improving around the globe. Indeed, we recently found that the UK is recovering from the record low revealed in 2017, with more British brands playing catch-up as expectations continue to be redefined. There is no doubt that businesses are peddling harder to satisfy – if not exceed – customer wants and needs, with their efforts evidently paying off.

“While progress is of course welcome, it’s vital to remember that expectations continue to rise. In fact, top ranking brands in each country scored on average 12% higher than other brands showing the gap between customer expectations and what many brands are actually delivering.

“Disruption has hit all the industries, from retail to financial services, and the fallout has given way to new innovative operating models, with added focus on the customer and their respective journeys and overall experience. This is a trend that is only likely to continue, so brands must keep pace or risk becoming irrelevant.”

Brands in each of the 20 countries were ranked in six distinct areas referred to as the Six Pillars of Customer Experience2 (Personalisation, Integrity, Expectations, Resolution, Time & Effort and Empathy). The global analysis revealed that personalisation was the key driver of customer loyalty, being the leading pillar in 18 of the 20 markets. Conversely, on average, empathy – or achieving an understanding of the customer’s circumstances to drive a deeper rapport – was the component brands struggled most with globally.

Lisa Fernihough, Head of Financial Services Consulting at KPMG UK added:

“For the second year in a row a financial services firm has topped the UK rankings, and globally four FS brands claimed top-spots in their respective markets. Whilst firms like Monzo, which ranked second in the UK, are introducing people to a new way of banking, it’s reassuring to also see some traditional players like Nationwide – which ranked seventh – continue to provide industry-leading customer experience.

“UK financial services, and especially banking is a highly competitive market. New innovations, products or rates are benchmarked daily and leaders don’t tend to stay ahead for long, but when it comes to customer experience, we are seeing a divergence to that trend, with the same few brands having appeared in the hall of fame for many years now.”

To read the full KPMG Global Customer Experience Excellence report: ‘Customer First: Customer Obsessed’ please click here.


For media enquiries, please contact:
Simon Wilson, KPMG Corporate Communications
T: 020 7 311 6651
M: 077853 73397

* Please note that references to countries refer to countries, regions and jurisdictions.

  1.  To read KPMG Nunwood’s latest UK Customer Experience Excellence report – Power to the people – please click: here (press release can be viewed here)
  2. KPMG Nunwood: The Six Pillars of Customer Experience comprise of the following:
  • Personalisation – Brands using individualised attention to drive an emotional connection
  • Integrity – Brands being trustworthy and engendering trust
  • Expectations – Managing, meeting and exceeding customer expectations
  • Resolution – Turning a poor experience into a great one
  • Time & Effort – Minimising customer effort and creating frictionless processes
  • Empathy – Achieving an understanding of the customer’s circumstances to drive a deep rapport

Research Methodology

Conducted through an online survey and completed in early 2019, the research took in the views of 84,066 consumers in 20 different countries, regions and jurisdictions. 2,075 brands were reviewed in total, resulting in 752,096 individual brand evaluations. The research was conducted on behalf of KPMG International by KPMG Nunwood’s Customer Experience Excellence Centre.

About KPMG in the UK

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 16,300 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.338 billion in the year ended 30 September 2018. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 154 countries and has 200,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.


© 2021 KPMG LLP a UK limited liability partnership and a member firm of the KPMG global organisation of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee. All rights reserved.

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