No matter what we’re buying, we all want a good customer experience – we want to think ‘wow’. In the increasingly competitive ageing sector, consumers are looking for tailored services with a personalised and seamless experience in an environment where they feel respected and engaged. Our research reveals a sector still grappling with a shift toward a customer first model. Without a positive experience at the heart of strategies and operating models, providers will simply not be able to attract and retain customers and control costs.
As consumers, we’re becoming increasingly aware of what great customer experience feels like and more vocal when we don’t receive it. It’s not surprising that attracting and retaining customers is a top issue for boards around the world, with 88 percent of CEOs concerned about the loyalty of their customers and 82 percent, about the relevance of their products or services.
In the ageing sector, consumers are increasingly voting with their feet by switching to providers when they don’t get what they want, need or expect.
Customer experience is now a fundamental business issue and aged care providers must shift their mindsets in order to grow and survive in the ‘age of the customer’. With 82 percent of people turning away from a business because of a bad experience and 85 percent wanting to warn others, it’s clear that bad customer experience can be detrimental for business and needs board-level support to make the right investments and changes within the entire organisation.
A positive experience, on the other hand, will let providers drive commercial outcomes. With 85 percent of people willing to pay 25 percent more for excellent customer service, shows that consumers become less sensitive to price when they experience good customer experience.
To help understand where the industry is today in terms of customer experience, KPMG interviewed consumers and their families and explored the topic and made ‘mystery shopper’ style calls to retirement Living, Home Care and Residential Care providers around Australia.
There was a general frustration with the lack of relevant information and poor response to enquiries by potential customers. In many cases, where a potential customer was able to speak to a member of staff, they were not able to answer questions.
A lack of transparency about prices and having to give the same information to each provider was a cause of frustration for interviewees. Interviews also revealed that customers value familiar staff, consistent and reliable care and being treated with respect.
Customer service across the segment was highly variable, regardless of the size and location of the provider. For 60 percent of providers in metropolitan locations, the first point of contact was not able to answer questions, forcing case managers, who were often on the road, to call back.
None of these providers’ websites published information about whether or not they had vacancies.
Confusing fee arrangements and a lack of relevant information in response to questions were the main sources of frustration for customers and potential customers.
Providers were often unable to tell customers about the waitlist for specific residential care facilities, including if there was a waitlist and/or the number of people on the waitlist.
As with the other sectors, customer service across all calls was also highly variable in quality and, across the board, providers were reluctant to speak with customers without an assessment through My Aged Care.
Mastering the economics of customer experience is a vital first step for leaders. For many organisations, investments in improving the customer experience don’t generate enough value, provide an acceptable return on investment or promote consistent and sustainable organisational processes.
1. Manage by metrics
Even when organisations develop business cases for customer experience, many fail to ground their investment plans in financial or customer measures with a clear link to value generation.
2. Recognise true benefit potential
While most organisations today have the capabilities to measure customer satisfaction, it is only part of a complete perspective on the customer experience. It is important to ensure all the necessary customer insights and inputs are available to accurately estimate the benefit of investment.
3. Gain clarity on costs and elasticity of investment
As the number of channels and interactions grow and customer demand increases, customer experience can become more complicated. From apps to call centres, agents and families, carers and facilities, the ways in which aged care customers can interact with providers is becoming more complex and so is understanding these costs.
4. Align organisation support for success
Consistent, effective delivery of customer experience is critical to value generation. Aligning people, processes and technology around the same vision and objectives is key to embedding the customer at the heart of operations.
For an industry so vital to our society and undergoing so much change and increasing competition, our findings reveal a sector still grappling with a shift toward a customer first model. Without positive customer experience at the heart of strategies and operating models, providers will simply not be able to attract and retain customers and control costs. Those that cannot react fast enough will be unable to maintain market share and stay competitive in the medium to long term.
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