Value for money, creating a customer experience and being empathetic to customer’s specific needs are what counts when it comes to Aussie consumers. Customer experience research agency and consultancy, Nunwood, has released its Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) study for the first time in Australia.
The researched surveyed 5000 Australian consumers and is comprised of both qualitative and quantitative data about what companies they feel provide excellent customer experiences, and how, building on previous UK and North American waves. Respondents rated multiple different dimensions of their experiences and indicated their willingness to advocate, remain loyal, forgive mistakes, be less price sensitive and take a wider range of products from a provider.
The top ten companies were found to be:
- Singapore Air, Air New Zealand
- RACQ (Royal Automobile Club Queensland)
- ING Direct
- Chemist Warehouse
- Dan Murphy’s
Joint managing director, Asia Pacific, at Nunwood, Anna Thomas, says it’s unusual for airlines to feature so predominately in the top ten. “It’s a different landscape here in Australia, top performers here are the airlines listed in the top ten, which is something we haven’t really seen in other countries,” she says.
Their success is being put down to delivering the total package, attentive staff, the latest in-flight entertainment, comfort and price.
But companies have also developed their offer with a tone of voice and a personality, which is clearly defined and easy to identify with.
For Air New Zealand it’s an ‘irreverent’ sense of fun, for Singapore Air have a gentler style, like giving a single flower on departure to female travellers.
“It is the brands like this that are simultaneously offering quality and a competitive price that are the leaders in the field,” Thomas says.
The majority of the top ten all focus on offering value as part of their brand. But offering value is far more complex than just offering ‘low prices’.
The report says price includes the cost to the consumer as well as the time and efficiency spent engaging with the company.
There is also a sense of a ‘fair go’ with all of the companies that ranked highly, the companies that were perceived to be treating the consumer with respect and to be charging a fair price for a fair product were rewarded with high levels of customer satisfaction.
But Australian customers appear to be to be chasing value within reason, with Aussie consumers being described as ‘empathetic’ with their purchasing choices.
“What’s really different and interesting about Australian consumers is that they are really empathetic to businesses. They are all about balancing what they want and need with what is reasonable for a business to deliver for the best price. It’s really interesting,” says Thomas.
The majority of companies featured in the top ten are described as finding a balance between value and quality. Brands like ING Direct, Aldi, Specsavers, Ubank, Chemist Warehouse and Dan Murphy’s are all felt to be achieving the perfect balance according to the report.
“Building great customer experience is about understanding the nuances of the consumer need – which may change at various points along the customer journey – and bringing them to life within the parameters of the brand and the particular business culture. It’s part art, part science, and it’s really exciting work,” Thomas says.
Thomas notes that companies that are going the extra mile will certainly be rewarded, in the example of the airlines, 87% of the passengers of these airlines have recommended them to others and 82% of the passengers of these airlines will choose them in preference for future travel
“Our research really found that Australians really just want an objective source of information. The challenges for Australian companies is still really getting that peer to peer objectivity is becoming increasingly important and turning a terrible experience into a good one. If you sting an Aussie customer they won’t forget easily.”
The survey outlines seven key criteria that Nunwood think businesses should adopt as standard across the board.
Australians want to buy Australian. Time and again, they say that locally-sourced goods are very important. Where price is increased, consumer’s want and need to clearly understand why things are so much more expensive in the domestic market than overseas – and what that extra is buying! The challenge for the next-generation Australian business is to make that equation make sense to the consumer.
Australians want information before they get in the car. The growth in online has led to the empowered consumer. Smart phone penetration is high and pre-purchase price checking is on the increase. Companies that can provide clear, differentiated, on brand information that is accessible to the consumer, will profit.
Australians want an objective, down-to-earth, recommendation: on line peer-to-peer reviews are a growing source of reference and influence. The company that can facilitate and engage with online conversations to draw and manage reviews will flourish
Treasure hunters abound. In line with the North American marketplace, where Extreme Couponing has become something of a national sport, there is a growing subset of the Australian population for whom finding a deal is an occupation in itself. Building in that thrill, pursuit and resulting satisfaction could create an important consumer-brand relationship
Don’t sell rubbish. As would be expected in a mature marketplace, there is a lowest price, below which quality is perceived to suffer. Whilst markdowns, reduced to clear and Specials are acceptable, (and outright bargains are chased), Australians draw the line where low price means low quality. There is a an undercurrent of antagonism towards retailers who get this balance wrong – and that antagonism, unfortunately, seems to have a lasting impact.
If they can do it overseas. With the high Australian dollar making overseas markets less expensive to access, more consumers are becoming exposed to global brands which may have different Customer Experience standards. This is leading to a marked level of dissatisfaction when domestic experiences fall short, on the expectation that – somewhere in the world – someone must be able to serve me better!