Opinion article

Customer Experience Excellence in the Australian public sector

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, writes KPMG's Jenny Roche.

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

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

  • Personalisationusing 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 Australian public sector 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 Australian Public Sector (APS), 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 bushfiresfloods, 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 is now moving rapid. Two years agointerfaces such as digital check-ins and national vaccination registers would have been deemed impossible. Now they are the norm in a sector where previous innovations such as the 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. 

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.  

About the authors

Jenny Roche

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Jenny Roche is a Partner, Customer, Brand & Marketing Advisory, with KPMG Australia.