Like Danny (John Travolta) in “Grease” trying to win back Aussie Sandy (Olivia Newton-John), Australian companies need to shape up to deliver customer experience (CX) that creates and sustains customer loyalty.

For close to a decade, Forrester has been tracking how Australian customers rate their experience with banks and supers, as well as federal- and state-level government agencies. Our latest research, working off of Australia 2024 Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) study data, reveals that most brands and agencies in our study saw the quality of their CX either flatlining or declining, which is not what we predicted. The study reveals that:

    • CX Index scores in banking and government dipped to their lowest-ever level. Across the sectors we surveyed in Australia — banking, investment, superannuation, and governmentnot a single brand or agency managed to improve their CX in 2024. On average, banking and government experienced statistically significant decreases in their scores. This year also marked the banking industry’s largest score change in three years, with no bank having a significant score rise and three banks experiencing statistically significant score decreases averaging 4.9 points. In contrast, no bank had a statistically significant decline in 2023.
    • Just a handful of FSI firms stand out — or provide good CX. Across the three financial service industry (FSI) verticals (banking, investment, and superannuation), ING and Bendigo Bank are the only brands in the good category of CX. The CX Index scores of the top and bottom banks differ by just 15.2 points; the Big Four banks — ANZ, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank, and Westpac — are separated by a scant 8.9 points. The spread is even narrower in the superannuation (2.4 points) and investment (1.8 points) industries. This indicates that there’s little to no difference in financial services firms’ ability to drive loyalty with quality CX. For example, just 56% of customers plan to stay with their investment firm, 50% plan to invest more with it, and 47% plan to advocate for their firm.
    • Government agencies struggle to drive strong mission performance with their CX. All of the government agencies in our study are in the poor or very poor categories of CX. Overall, far more customers reported very poor experiences at more than twice the rate that they reported excellent experiences. As a result, just 44% of customers are willing to comply with directives and advice, 32% are likely to request official information, 22% are likely to apply for optional benefits and services, 32% are planning to speak well of the agency, 30% are likely to trust the agency, and 26% are willing to forgive the agency when it makes mistakes.
    • Brands and agencies must improve their digital CX. Government, investment, and superannuation customers rate digital CX worse than physical and hybrid CX. For banking customers, digital CX is barely better than physical CX (66.5 versus 65.6). Across the four sectors, fewer customers said that digital-only experiences were emotionally positive compared to physical-only channels or a mix of physical and digital channels. Customer emotions are the most important element of CX quality but the most difficult to address, which is why CX pros need a well-thought-out design effort.

To learn more about the 2024 Australia CX Index, read our CX Index reports featuring the banking, investment, superannuation, and government sectors or schedule a guidance session with me.