Report: Digital experiences are improving, but omni-channel is still a missed opportunity

New study by SAP shows Aussie brands are offering a more positive digital experience but could do more to meet omni-channel expectations

Australian businesses are offering better digital experiences to consumers, but could do more to meet changing omni-channel expectations, a new report finds.

The SAP 2017 Australian Digital Experience Report, based on results from more than 4000 Australians who rated more than 11,000 interactions against 14 attributes, found overall digital experiences have improved compared to last year. And for the first time since the survey was conducted in 2015, five industries posted positive results.

For the second year running, Netflix was singled out by Australians as having the best digital experience among all brands. Retail grocery brands as a category otherwise led the way, improving their combined digital experience score with 14 points, with banking, media and entertainment and retail consumer also returning positive digital experience scores respectively.

On the flip side, air travel achieved an overall score of 1, which meant an almost even split of delighted and unsatisfied customers. Sectors that had more dissatisfied customers when it comes to digital were insurance telecommunications and bottom of the ranks, utilities.

Overall, the proportion of consumers unsatisfied with their digital experiences has dropped from 40 per cent to 35 per cent, while the number who are delighted has increased from 26 per cent to 31 per cent. According to the report, this highlights that brands have actively improved the digital experiences they provide, but there’s still much room for improvement.

SAP president and managing director for A/NZ, Colin Brookes, said that with the digital performance of brands in Australia significantly improving since SAP first launched the study in 2015, retailers are clearly equipping themselves with innovative digital capabilities to prepare themselves for future disruption, such as the impending local launch of Amazon.

“Banks also face intense competition and are looking to improve customer experience, increasing engagement and responsiveness as a result,” he said. “And while brands have improved overall, this is still very much grounded on getting the basics right along with a greater focus on the emotional attributes that consumers demand.

"In order to become a digital experience leader, brands should look to new technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to help integrate and deliver personalised experiences across channels, which delight customers.”

Greater omni-channel expectations

New to this year’s research, the report revealed brands could improve their digital experience scores by enabling customers to interact across multiple channels.

Brands delivering an omni-channel experience saw a lift in Net Promotor Score (8 per cent versus -1 per cent) and customer loyalty (43 per cent would remain loyal versus 38 per cent), as opposed to those that offer a single channel. Despite this, omni-channel experiences disappointed 29 per cent of consumers compared to just 16 per cent in single channel.

The report showed close to half of consumers use at least five channels to engage with brands including physical stores, contact centres, mail, websites, live chat, social media and mobile apps. 

Websites scored the highest satisfaction rating followed by email and mobile. These provided a better customer experience than bricks-and-mortar interactions, telephone/contact centres or traditional mail. Newer technologies such as social media and live chat offered the lowest levels of satisfaction for digital channels.

Consumers in the 18-34 age group are more likely to use five or more channels to engage with brands (57 per cent) compared to those aged 35-49 (46 per cent) and 50+ (30 per cent). Similarly, younger consumers reported feeling more satisfied with their experience in social media and live chat channels compared to older consumers.

According to SAP Hybris head for A/NZ, Stuart O’Neill, consumers no longer view each brand interaction in isolation – they want a consistent experience at every touchpoint.

“We need to remember consumers are individuals with preferred methods of engagement,” he said. “Providing an optimised experience across all channels ensures that, no matter where they choose to reach you, they have an experience that meets their expectations.

“This is increasingly important with the number of international brands launching in Australia, many of which are defined by robust omni-channel experiences.”

With more consumers now expecting omni-channel interactions, O’Neill stressed brands need to ensure integrated and cohesive consumer experiences or risk losing customers.

“The best performing brands across industries are looking outside the box and ensuring each consumer interaction is optimised, personalised and, above all, delightful,” he said. “A great example of brands looking critically at the experience they provide and making a change can be seen in the grocery sector, where these brands are under a lot of pressure from digital native competitors looking to take market share.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

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