KPMG recently completed the annual Customer Experience Excellence survey asking consumers about their purchase preferences and experiences with brands in order to understand the drivers of two commercial outcomes: advocacy and loyalty.

This year thousands of customers from around the world, including ~3000 Australian consumers, provided key insights. The survey reports against the Six Pillars of Customer Experience Excellence which covers:

  • Personalisation: using individualised attention to drive emotional connections.
  • Time and Effort: minimising customer effort and creating frictionless processes.
  • Resolution: turning a disappointing experience into a great one.
  • Integrity: being trustworthy and engendering trust.
  • Expectations: managing, meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
  • Empathy: understanding the customer’s circumstances to drive deep rapport.

Before, during and after the pandemic, companies recognised the importance of customer experience and the need to make it simpler and easier for their customers to engage with them.

Over the past 18 months the public service in Australia has made great advances in delivering improvements in customer experience and doing so during some of the most challenging times faced by the sector.

The KPMG Customer Experience Excellence report found that the public service in Australia, and the bureaucracy in all states and territories have seen significant positive shifts across the six pillars of good customer experience, during a period where they have had to lean into service delivery like never before.

A review, led by David Thodey, chair of CSIRO, into the APS in late 2019 called for the need to put Australians at the centre of government and for government to be held to account for experience and service delivery. These findings were supported with funding set aside across the sector to enhance the focus on measurement of customer satisfaction. Then came bushfires, floods, and COVID-19.

Citizens expected the government to develop and deliver existing and new services efficiently and digitally – while holding them to the same (or better) experience standards they expect from a bank or telecommunications company. Citizens expected personalisation, empathy, to be kept informed and to be heard, and the public sector has listened. The past 18 months has seen significant improvements in the experiences of citizens accessing services from the governments.

Digitisation of services

Digitisation has moved at pace during this time, interfaces such as digital check-ins and national vaccination registers would have been deemed impossible two years ago have now become the norm in a sector where innovations such as MyHealth Record have seen slow adoption.

Not everything has worked perfectly and not all Australians have been happy with the rise in reliance on the public sector to determine our freedoms and track our movements, but most would agree that the steps taken have protected our communities from the devasting effects of COVID-19 as seen in other countries.

These pockets of new and emerging standards from the public sector won’t be forgotten by the users. Rather, they will demand consistency across touchpoints and a culture of continuous improvement to ensure service delivery standards keep pace with increasing expectations. To deliver this the public sector will need to orchestrate delivery to prioritise across the pillars and align to customer needs.

Significant momentum has been achieved but much more work is needed to bring Australians to the centre of government and include us all in shaping the services of today and the Australia of the future. We are at crossroads where digital technology and the citizen data we hold can make the connections required to reshape our country, the challenges being addressed are:

  • co-design of service across silos
  • innovation and digitisation of services
  • maintaining and improving the workarounds.

There is an increasing need to put the customer at the centre of any business thinking, not only at the front office of customer service and delivery, but at the outset during policy development and to drive economic resilience and fiscal reform.

Customer Experience Excellence for the Public Sector

The 2021 results show that customer experience efforts are recognised by Australian consumers. However, the public sector has more work to do to continue to meet ever-evolving customer needs.

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