Customer Experience Excellence report 2021.

Customer Experience Excellence report 2021.

In 2020, consumer expectations and behaviors shifted dramatically during the COVID-19 crisis, with customers favoring a more 'back-to-basics' approach by businesses. For many organizations this highlighted the importance of the ongoing need for digital acceleration of service delivery. It was also an opportunity for organizations to show integrity in the conduct of business and build trust through transparent, timely and accessible information.

Consumer behaviors are changing with increased importance being placed on brands who can provide them with both comfort and a distraction. Consumers expect frictionless, authentic and personalized experiences and are seeking brands to go beyond knowing them to understanding them. This places an increasing urgency for brands to be able to meet, anticipate and exceed the changing needs and shifting expectations of consumers.

Whilst Integrity and Personalization remain key drivers for loyalty and advocacy in Australia, brands who have also been able to demonstrate Empathy - showing that they care and offering friendly and efficient customer service have performed well. Those organizations who have extended Empathy internally, spending time keeping their employees engaged, have also reaped the benefits in this year's survey. Certain industries by shear default of being core and essential services have also seen prominence in the consumer’s mind including grocery, chemists and alcohol.

Non-grocery retail brand Mecca cosmetics is one of the top brands in the research this year, leading the market in both Integrity and Expectation pillars. Mecca also performed well on both Empathy and Personalization pillars. Mecca's success can in part be attributed to the evolution of their digital proposition and a focus on the physical / digital customer experience connection. They have also invested heavily in customer service, staff education and engagement.1 Mecca’s loyalty program Beauty Loop avoids discounts and instead relies on a community of 4.3 million highly engaged customers to share data which has created a leading customer loyalty and advocacy program. Founder and co-CEO Jo Horgan said: “It has really built a community of phenomenally passionate and engaged beauty customers who share reams of data with us and that’s enabled us to personalize the experience as this lovely virtuous circle.”2

Grocery retail remains the top performing sector in Australia. Beverage retailer First Choice Liquor continues to perform well in the survey; a trend reflective of the sector overall, and potentially a unique outcome following consumer demands in lockdowns. The brand’s product range and availability, low prices and special offers are key contributors to their success. Their helpful staff and online offerings have enabled customers to find a product that matches their needs. Survey respondents praised First Choice Liquor’s customer service experience, with one saying: “I shop at first choice liquor at least every fortnight, both in store and online and the experience is always excellent.”

Bendigo Bank has been a consistent performer in the survey, with respondents also saying staff at Bendigo Bank were a huge asset to the organization. It leads on Empathy and Resolution, an outcome reflective of being authentically purpose driven and providing customers comfort through financial reassurance during difficult times. The bank reported a 4.3 percent increase in new customers during the second half of 20203  and managing Director Marnie Baker credited this success with its efforts to support customers through COVID-19. The group increased its mobile relationship mangers by 16 percent, allowing customers to have direct contact with bank managers. Meanwhile, its community bank model is investing profits into communities across Australia – helping to boost Bendigo Bank’s Integrity scores.

With the insurgence of the curious and digitally savvy consumer, organizations will need to do more to truly understand their customers’ values, interests and motivations. This will mean finding ways to make the best use of this information to be able to deliver digital and intentional experiences that meet customers where they want to be met. Organizations will also need to focus on building the capabilities to balance how the digital and offline experiences combine for customers. Investing in the right technology to extract meaningful insights that are readily available to sales, marketing and service teams will be key in removing organizational silos.

Moving forward, organizations should move from a reactive to a proactive approach to developing solutions that enable customer success and solve for customer lifecycle problems before they arise. If brands want to outperform the competition it will likely be their ability to anticipate how they can add value for their customers by knowing customers better than they know themselves.

Organizations are increasingly understanding the need to consider the reality of experience across channels and based on needs at a point in time. This has meant rethinking the traditional sales, marketing and service pathways they have relied upon for so long so remove noise from the customer engagement

Jenny Roche
KPMG Australia


Leading CX brands in Australia




First Choice Liquor


Bendigo Bank


Bunnings Warehouse








Chemist Warehouse


The Iconic