Financial services firms have dominated KPMG Australia’s Top 10 brands for customer experience, with challenger institutions singled out by consumers as top performers in ratings for integrity, resolution, and empathy.
While Singapore Airlines took out top spot as the most highly rated CX brand, FSIs swept almost the remainder of the board, taking out seven of the Top 10 spots in KPMG’s Customer Experience Excellence 2019 survey. RACQ Insurance led the local FSI charge, followed closely by Bendigo Bank, Paypal, Afterpay, ING, NRMA Insurance (placed 3rd to 7th respectively) and RACV Insurance (placed 9th).
Overall, the financial services sector is now the second highest-rated industry for customer experience, overtaking the non-grocery retail sector – last year’s second place getter. The grocery retail sector, which includes the Top 10 ranked Dan Murphy’s, maintains its leading position as the top CX industry as rated by Australians.
While, as the report’s authors acknowledged, the result may be surprising in the light of the Banking Royal Commission, much of the consumer praise appears to directed towards challenger institutions and fintechs, including RACQ Insurance, Afterpay, NRMA Insurance, and RACV Insurance.
Indeed, despite the industry’s standout showing, none of the big four banks cracked the Top 50 CX brands, signalling a potential disconnect between the big banking brands and their customers in the wake of the Hayne inquiry.
“In a category that has been significantly disrupted, the smaller brands and fintechs are delivering the high standards of customer experience that other brands should be looking to,” the report said.
Queensland-based insurer RACQ was singled out for its successful CX delivery, rated as Australia’s highest for Integrity (7.92 out of 10) and Resolution (7.86) – a measure of the company’s ability to turn a negative sales experience into a positive one.
“Customers mentioned RACQ Insurance consistently provided an experience that they could rely on, where efficiency, urgency and empathy were regularly demonstrated.”
Despite some criticism around its business model and reports of excessive “financial stress” placed on its customers (with late fees reportedly representing almost a quarter of the company’s income), Afterpay came out an unlikely 5th place in the consumer survey, with the payment service provider a local leader in the pillar of Personalisation, as well as a top five performer in in Time and Effort, Expectations and Integrity.
The report’s authors acknowledged the ease of use of Afterpay’s apps, as well as the availability of its services among a large number of online retailers, as critical for the brand in establishing customer solidarity and rapport.
“Behind Afterpay’s network effect is what they describe as a ‘frictionless customer experience’. The payment method understands customers’ circumstances and helps them obtain what they need,” the report said.
Overall, “seamless digital experiences” were singled out by the report’s authors as a critical differentiator for brands wanting to make a mark with their CX.
“With evolving customer expectations and an influx of disruptive digital only brands, many Australian organisations are concerned about their digital presence. A digital transformation must be echoed throughout the organisation to allow for a seamless multi-channel experience that reflects the brand’s unique identity.”
“Internally, this involves consolidating and reconfiguring outdated information systems and legacy processes. This empowers staff to provide a brand experience that is tailored to meet customers’ individual needs independent from the channel they choose to engage through.
The community-led engagement model, well practiced by financial sector challengers RACQ insurance, RACV Insurance and NRMA Insurance, was also seen as a critical to reconnecting consumers with the brand, according to Sudeep Gohil, Partner – Customer, Brand and Marketing Advisory, KPMG Australia
“The Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) findings suggest that brands that are community-led, abiding by collective values and playing an active role in the community are likely to engage customers over brands that are focused solely on building their customer base. It’s evident amongst customer experience leaders across industry that holding an altruistic stance has become common practice and therefore organisations that choose not to be community focused risk falling behind in years to come,” Gohil said.
However, KPMG’s partner in charge of customer, brand and marketing advisory, Amanda Hicks, said Australian businesses, compared to their international counterparts, are struggling to deliver a high-value customer experience, often burdened by legacy processes that stifle innovation.
“Responsibility for the customer experience of each channel sits in siloed business units in many Australian companies. This means there’s a lack of overall strategy, or indeed a sense of what ‘the big picture’ looks like,” Hicks said.
“Customer experience has been heightened as a topical conversation in the Australian market through increased attention over the past 18 months in areas as diverse as aged care and financial services. Traditional Australian organisations, which are often tied to legacy ways of working, are struggling to match the digital experience offered by new market entrants. The future challenge for these organisations will be successfully translating their physical presence into a digital blueprint that captures the essence of their brand.”
KPMG’s annual report surveyed 2,500 Australian consumers about their interactions with more than 110 brands, both local and international. This year’s average score was 7.14 out of 10 in the local market, with around three-quarters of brands clustered in the 6.5-7.5 range – no single local brand scored more than 7.83 for their overall brand CX.