Australian consumers value “experience theatre”, report reveals

Businesses need to tap into the notion of “experience theatre” to resonate with consumers, according to a new report, which identifies Singapore Airlines as one of the top companies for customer experience excellence.


Nunwood, a market research agency, has released the results of its 2013 Customer Experience Excellence study, an international index of companies that excel in the eyes of their customers.


In its first-ever systematic look at the Australian market, Nunwood surveyed 5000 Australian consumers to reveal which companies are delivering excellent service and how they do it.


According to the Top 10 Customer Experience Excellence Index, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand share the top spot, followed by the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland.


In fourth spot is ING, followed by Aldi, Specsavers, Emirates, Ubank, Chemist Warehouse and Dan Murphy’s.


The index is calculated across six dimensions of a customer experience: personalisation, resolution, integrity, time and effort, expectations, and empathy.


The report said businesses can emulate the success of Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand by tapping into the notion of “experience theatre”.


“Both companies seem actively to seek new and vivid ways to engage with the consumer. And importantly, the brand can be experienced at every step,” it said.


“This creative engagement – a sense of ‘theatre’ – generates an emotional connection with passengers.


“We see a high degree of loyalty and willingness to buy additional products – and reduced price sensitivity.”


According to the report, the notion of “fair go” forms the basis of the companies listed in the Top 10 Customer Experience Excellence Index.


“The Australian consumer values high quality customer experiences but not in isolation of price… The sense of ‘fair go’ comes through loud and clear,” the report said.


“If companies want to attract the consumer here, they need to be seen to treat the consumer with respect, and to be charging a fair price for a fair product.


“There is, therefore, a fine balance for organisations in Australia to strike. And one which requires companies to keep in constant touch with the Australian view of what is fair and reasonable in a global marketplace.


“Brands such as ING, Aldi, Specsavers, Ubank, Chemist Warehouse and Dan Murphy’s are all felt to be achieving the perfect balance.”


The report identifies seven challenges for all Australian businesses:


Australians want to buy Australian


Consumers say locally-sourced goods are very important. Where price is increased, consumers want and need to clearly understand why things are so much more expensive.


Australians want information before they get in the car

Pre-purchase price checking is on the increase. Companies which can provide clear, differentiated brand information, which reinforces “reasons to buy from us”, will profit.


Australians want an objective, down-to-earth recommendation

Online peer-to-peer reviews are a growing source of reference and influence, so companies need to facilitate and engage with online conversations to draw and manage reviews.


Treasure hunters abound

In line with the North American marketplace, where “extreme couponing” is rampant, there is a growing subset of the Australian population for whom finding a deal is an occupation in itself.


Don’t sell rubbish


While markdowns, reduced-to-clear and specials are acceptable, Australian consumers draw the line where low price means low quality. There is an undercurrent of antagonism towards retailers who get this balance wrong.


If you don’t serve me, I’ll go overseas


More consumers are becoming exposed to global brands that may have different customer experience standards. This is leading to a marked level of dissatisfaction when local experiences aren’t at a similar standard, prompting consumers to go elsewhere.


The sell goes beyond the checkout


Australian consumers are becoming more demanding of the customer experience. Consumers expect companies to provide excellence end-to-end, engaging them pre- and post-purchase.


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