Executive summary

Everything about the customer is changing – motivations, connections, expectations, time and purchasing power. Life events are less predictable than they were in the past. Organizations that don’t detect these shifts, and fail to build strategies based on the new realities and lives of the customers they serve, will struggle to remain relevant in today’s marketplace.

The impact of COVID-19 on customer behavior was immediate and widespread across all industries, countries and demographics. Expectations have heightened as priorities have shifted to health and safety first, which have in turn changed decision making and buying behavior.

As a result, what was previously considered to be a great customer experience has no longer been good enough and almost all businesses have been thrust into reorganizing their approach to customers.

Customers are the lifeblood of every organization and the money they spend is the oxygen that enables the business to exist, grow and thrive. There is a commercial cadence - a rhythm - associated with how the customer and organization transact and interact with each other over time. With this cadence comes the opportunity to deliver experiences that in turn establish and sustain enduring relationships and drive value for both sides.

Many purchases have had to shift from in-person to online channels, creating a more digitally savvy consumer that demands easy and effortless interactions. Consumers 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 transactions and commercial cadence with their customers. Indeed, the shift to digital enabled greater value to be created by lowering costs to serve.

The CX leaders in our research lead from the front to support their colleagues in these extraordinary times and build an organization which is connected - where every part of the business is symbiotic and aligned, from the front office through to the back office, to deliver an intentional customer experience.

In this report we look at three key areas:

The new reality customer

Globally, consumers believe they will be living their lives very differently for the foreseeable future. They feel more vulnerable, less secure and less in control than ever before.

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The new reality experience

Investing in the customer relationship in times of difficulty will be repaid by enduring customer loyalty. Firms that maintain their ethics during periods of catastrophe grow and prosper.

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A connected enterprise for the new reality

Companies that were agile, responsive and digitally enabled were able to better navigate the effects of COVID-19 and lockdown.

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This year alone we have taken in the views of more than 100,000 consumers across 27 countries, regions and jurisdictions, with over 800,000 individual brand evaluations.

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. Firms will need to know this new customer intimately if they are to succeed in the new reality.

”Experiences in the new reality need to be immersive, emotionally connective and overtly safe. This demands a connected organization where every capability is symbiotic and digitally aligned front to back to deliver an intentional customer experience.”

Julio Hernandez
Head of Global Customer Center of Excellence,
KPMG International,
US Customer Advisory Lead,
KPMG in the US

Key findings

The quality of customer experiences are improving around the world. All countries researched have seen an uplift in their overall Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) score this year.
The average increase of all markets together is 3%


Value is the differentiator on product or service choice for 63% of consumers as a result of COVID-19

Personalization is the strongest pillar in driving Customer Loyalty in 19 of the 27 markets, whilst Integrity leads across 6 markets.

Of the 19 markets which featured previously, 7 brands retained their number 1 spot.

Overall Non-grocery retail is the strongest performing sector for CX in 2020, followed by Financial Services.

Brands are perceived to be providing more value for money. There has been a 3% uplift since 2019

of consumers are worried about the global economic situation

of customers are concerned about their personal data and what happens to it.

The Logistics sector has seen the highest increase in performance in 2020 of 6%

The top-ranked brand in each market typically outperforms the respective market average score for each pillar by between 10% and 12%.

Over half of consumers say the environmental and social practices of a company has an impact when choosing to buy from them.

Integrity is the strongest driver of Advocacy (NPS) across 18 of the 27 markets whilst Personalization leads across 8 markets.

90% of consumers regard resolution as their most important customer service issue

of customers are willing to pay more for ethical retailers

Financial Services dominates the first place rankings. 12 out of 27 leaders are FS brands

Customer experience (CEE metric) for the top-ranked brand in each market is an average of 11% higher than its respective market average.

Average performance has risen across all Six Pillar this year, with expectations seeing the greatest increase globally (+4% on average)