Customer Experience in the Ageing Sector

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 grxeat 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.

The business case for customer experience

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.

The experience in Australia: Where are we today?

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.

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Key findings

Retirement living

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.

  • 80 percent of operators did not answer calls
  • When customers left messages only 50 percent of calls were returned
  • 60 percent of providers had out-of-date content on their website.

Home care

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.

  • 100 percent of providers requested consumers to go through My Aged Care prior to answering questions
  • 30 percent of operators did not return calls
  • 60 percent of operators could not adequately answer questions
  • 60 percent of Home Care Package providers did not disclose their current prices.

Residential care

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.

  • 70 percent of operators could not confidently answer questions due to a lack of information or a reluctance to talk without an assessment through My Aged Care
  • 78 percent of operators had low or moderate level of knowledge about fees
  • 80 percent of answered calls resulted in an operator sending out information packs and/or suggesting a site visit to answer customer questions.

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Finding the right balance

Four steps to mastering the economics of customer experience

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.

  • Consider customer experience investments with the same level of due diligence you would consider for other business investments.
  • Ensure investments to meet customer expectations and to address broken experiences are tied to metrics with proven association to customer experience.

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.

  • Better understand your customer base through the customer experience. Identify their journeys, understand the value of each customer segment and research the importance of each interaction.
  • Be sure to understand each segment’s expectations and their current level of satisfaction with the interaction.
  • Use this understanding of value and expectation to conduct a value gap analysis. Determine the extent of the value released by improving the experience for certain segments at specific interactions.

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.

  • Begin the process of customer experience costing with an example consumer journey.
  • Set a strategic vision for customer experience costing. Obtain executive sponsorship to ensure all of the right people are working together towards a clear goal.
  • Invest the necessary time and resources to create a sustainable method of tracking customer experience 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.

  • Develop alternative scenarios on how the new customer experience will be delivered. Consider the people, processes and technology associated with each scenario and create prototypes to test against specific customer segments.
  • Establish an effective governance model to monitor and manage customer experience and report on the value created.
  • Consider the creation of a virtual customer experience hub, drawing on people from across the organisation.

Summary

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.

This content was originally published on KPMG’s website 

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  1. What if you have no choice as was the case with my husband.?.. as his dementia worsened he became aggressive with personal care.. his third Aged Care setting was an hour from our home. We were on a waiting list for one in Caulfield but sadly Peter died from a sub-dural heamatoma sustained in a fall. He was prescribed multiple medications. One category gave him drug induced Parkinson’s. When I commented about how bleak and soul destroying the facility was on the day he was admitted, the male nurses’ response was,” It is the end of the line for people like your husband.!” Well I guess it was!

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