• Julio Hernandez, Leadership |

What was previously considered to be a great customer experience may no longer be good enough, as a result of the impact of COVID-19. Almost all businesses have been thrust into changing their approach to engaging with customers.

COVID-19 has brought forth a consumer that is more thoughtful and selective in their decision making. Part of this is a result of customers seeking out businesses that demonstrate and build trust. KPMG member firms are seeing a shift towards ‘buying into companies’ rather than simply ‘buying from them’. Factors such as brand, purpose and reputation are coming into the decision-making process in equal measure to safety, security, convenience and certainty. These are all now parts of a new value equation that customers hold to account.

KPMG International has just launched Customer experience in the new reality – a special COVID-19 edition which showcases the global CX leaders from surveys conducted with over 100,000 consumers via 800,000 brand evaluations across 27 countries, regions and jurisdictions.  What I found particularly striking is that many of the leading brands are focused on making a difference to customers’ lives and are driven by ethical and sustainable objectives. Around the world, we are witnessing a new era of corporate citizenship.

2020 survey findings

Customer experience (CX) is improving globally and has grown on average by 3 percent since last year’s research and 5 percent since 2018.  For 2020, in total, 17 out of 19 markets included in previous studies have seen a year-on-year increase in their CEE metric.

Additional key findings:

  • Financial Services dominates the first place rankings. 12 out of 27 leaders are financial services brands.
  • The Logistics sector has seen the highest increase in performance in 2020 of 6 percent.
  • The CEE metric (customer experience) for the top-ranked brand in each market is an average of 11 percent higher than its respective market average.

What realignment looks like

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many purchases have had to shift from in-person to online channels, creating a more digitally savvy consumer that demands frictionless interactions. Customers of all ages have discovered that the internet makes their daily routines more efficient and these behaviors are likely to stick.

Many organizations had to accelerate, augment and promote their original customer interaction investments. For the leaders in our research, this was a minor adjustment to existing operating models allowing them to maintain continued interactions with their customers on a regular basis – maintaining a commercial cadence. Indeed, the shift to digital enabled greater value to be created by lowering costs to serve.

The migration to these digital relationships poses something of a challenge for organizations, even for those with a strong digital presence, because online experiences in the new reality need to be immersive, emotive and, above all, safe. The delivery of those experiences demands a connected organization. This means that every capability is symbiotic and digitally aligned front-to-back to deliver an intentional customer experience. Naturally, this requires that costs and priorities are balanced against changing customer expectations.

Leading from the front

The customer experience leaders in our research lead from the front to support their colleagues in these extraordinary times. They focus on building a connected organization – one that goes beyond cross-channel interactions and breaks down barriers to align data, people, process, and technology in order to deliver the customer experience promise and drive profitable growth.

I encourage you to review the findings of our research to help you adapt your approach to customer experience and align to a new reality. A dynamic economic environment, a shift in values and newly expected standards of customer and corporate behavior are rapidly changing the rules of the game. Organizations will need to know this new customer intimately if they are to create a better future.

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