CSBA’s Annual SenseCX assessment of the CX performance of major Australian companies and organisations demonstrates that customer experience really suffered on the back of the pandemic in many sectors – in particular banking and health insurers.

The results are based on more than 9,300 independent assessments of actual real life customer interactions across 194 different organisations from the banking, utilities, superannuation, education, health insurance, local government, communication and automotive sectors.

CSBA Managing Director, Paul Van Veenendaal, explained that ‘when we look at the performance across a number of different sectors, we’re seeing little to no improvement and in some cases a sharp decline’.

Success, Ease and Sentiment – the cornerstone of positive customer experiences

Assessments used the highly regarded SenseCX Quality Assurance framework to measure the quality of a customer’s interaction with an organisation based on three factors widely agreed to be the key markers of a positive customer experience – Success, Ease and Sentiment.

‘At CSBA, we promote the importance of all three – experiences need to be easy, they need to end in a successful resolution and they should leave the customer feeling good about the interaction and the brand’ explains Paul.

Banks and health insurers made it tougher for customers to resolve issues – despite many customers experiencing vulnerability

Of the nine industries assessed as part of the research program, banks and health insurers actually made it more difficult for customers to resolve issues in 2020 – at a time when many people were struggling with financial and/or health concerns.

Ease of dealing with health insurers and banks fell by considerably – 19% and 6% respectively. Given the nature of the Covid crisis, where health and finances were top of mind for many of us, a lot more could have been done to lessen the blow for Australia consumers.

Interestingly, superannuation funds managed to maintain service levels, despite the emergency legislation that allowed people to withdraw from their superannuation creating a huge uptick in call volumes which lead to longer wait times.

But, it’s not all bad news – the utilities, education and local government sectors all showed a marked improvement in overall CX performance

Interestingly, these three sectors achieved an improvement in their overall CX score of between 3% and 8% during the pandemic. Paul explains that ‘utilities led the way in how they engaged with their customers – particularly vulnerable customers who were struggling with their bills’.

This reflects the efforts the sector has made in recent years to train staff to focus on making customer interactions easy, positive and successful. Water, in particular, had invested in training agents pre-covid to handle vulnerable customers, which stood them in good stead when many previously secure customers lost work during the pandemic and required extra assistance.

Educational institutions also did well to lift their Ease score by 8%, and maintain the highest sector-level score for Sentiment. This increase is particularly important given that both domestic and international students were particularly hit hard by the pandemic. The education sector faced other pressures too, including staff and budget cuts and a huge increase in enquiries with people looking to re-skill or study from home.

Interestingly, the local government sector also improved its ability to successfully resolve enquiries, and also saw an increase in both Ease and Sentiment. Government and utilities also reported receiving many more calls than they would usually receive– perhaps as a result of people working from home and having more time or inclination to question or complain about issues they may not have noticed previously.

Sector by sector performance

Anecdotally, it appears that those organisations that dealt well with customers in distress or under pressure – by spending more time engaging with them and sharing experiences of the difficulties we all faced last year – rated more highly for Success, Ease and Sentiment.

In those sectors where the needle barely moved or moved backwards, there is clearly a need for a greater understanding of how to both measure and improve the customer experience.

See the Top CX Performers – sector by sector

See which Australian companies and organisations are leading the way when it comes to customer experience. Or click here to learn more about the CX assessment program and the methodology that underpins the assessment of Success, Ease and Sentiment.

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