Australian consumers are calling on organisations to bring an improved human touch to their customer experience, according to a new report released by Qualtrics and SAP’s Centre for Experience Management.

The Customer Experience Edge: Australia report has shown that while organisations are adopting digital, self-serve, and AI-powered technologies, close to half of consumers (44%) say making it simple to access human-like experiences when needed – such as engaging with a real person – would have the biggest impact on improving their customer experience.

Further, 45% of Australians prefer to have service interactions through a real person, compared to one-third (34%) who say their preference depends on the nature of the interaction, and 21% who favour digital platforms. 

Improving the helpfulness of customer service representatives is also one of the most impactful issues organisations need to address to improve their customer experience, ahead of mobile app ease of use, offering more digital payment options, and speed of delivery and service.

With many organisations rethinking and redesigning their customer experience programs, these findings are a critical reminder to not forget the importance of bringing human-like experiences to these touchpoints, according to Qualtrics and SAP Centre for Experience Management program leader and author of The Customer Experience Edge: Australia report, Lara Truelove (pictured).

“Delivering programs, products, and services with a customer-first mindset is more important than ever, and a key part of this is ensuring customers receive the experiences they desire while frontline employees are enabled with the tools and systems to quickly and easily understand and take action on what matters most to customers,” she said.

The interactions tending to leave an impression on Australians are those involving frontline customer service representatives. Analysis of qualitative feedback shows helpful and courteous services and knowledgeable representatives are the top reasons why consumers recommend a company. In contrast, lack of knowledge and rude staff are the top two reasons someone would complain about the organisation.

The Customer Experience Edge: Australia report highlights three areas to prioritise when improving the customer experience:

  • Empathy at the frontline – Organisations should focus on selection, onboarding, and skilling to set frontline team members up for success, and when designing experiences, identify and focus on the moments and scenarios requiring empathy. Frontline employees must be enabled to clearly articulate the outcomes customers are focused on and empowered to solve issues.
  • Agency at the frontline – Enabling employees to provide accurate advice, solve issues and anticipate needs and issues is imperative. Central to this is ensuring frontline employees can identify and resolve common service and service recovery tasks.
  • Digital self-serve – Digital edge customers expect interaction convenience in the channels of their choice. The leading organisations will look at common service tasks that can be delivered through self-serve and ensure the customer can be engaged in their desired way.