From supermarkets to internet, these brands earned top scores for customer satisfaction

Brands need to provide more than basic service and low prices to gain consumers' trust.

Brands need to provide more than basic service and low prices to gain consumers' trust. Photo: Getty

From supermarkets to telco and tourism, new polling has revealed the brands that are ahead of the game when it comes to customer satisfaction in Australia.

Aldi was among the winners in market research firm Roy Morgan’s annual customer satisfaction awards announced this week, with the German discount chain beating out Coles and Woolworths to take the title of supermarket of the year.

There were 40 winners across categories ranging from bank of the year (Beyond Bank) to mobile handset provider of the year (Apple iPhone) and clothing store of the year (Jeanswest).

The awards were based on Roy Morgan’s monthly consumer satisfaction polls, with 10 companies topping their category across all 12 months of 2020.

They were:

  • Aussie Broadband (internet service provider of the year)
  • Health Partners (private health insurer of the year)
  • Myer (department store of the year)
  • The Reject Shop (discount variety store of the year)
  • Powershop (electricity provider of the year)
  • Bunnings (hardware store of the year)
  • Rebel (sports store of the year)
  • RAC (major general insurer of the year)
  • Defence Health (major private health insurer of the year – not for profit or restricted)

Jana Bowden, an associate professor and chair of ethics at Macquarie Business School and an expert in marketing and consumer psychology, said brands shouldn’t put too much stock in customer satisfaction scores.

Measuring customer satisfaction is a widely used marketing practice, but it isn’t a science.

“As a measure it’s plagued by imprecision and inconsistency – it taps into customers baseline expectations and whether or not they are met – but it doesn’t offer any more insight than that and brands wouldn’t want to rely on measures of satisfaction only to assess performance,” Dr Bowden said.

One of the major issues with measuring customer satisfaction is that it’s difficult for brands to “get a clear grasp on what attribute the consumer is thinking of when they respond to the question ‘‘How satisfied are you?’’, she said.

“To put it simply, were they thinking about the friendliness of the service, the product range and price, the car parking or the cleanliness of the toilets?

‘‘And even if you could accurately answer that question – which was the attribute that actually counted when it came down to making a great experience for the customer?’’

What makes consumers trust a brand?

Instead of trying to measure customer satisfaction, brands should be asking “how many consumers are passionate about the brand, trust it, believe in it, champion it, and tell others about it?” Dr Bowden said.

Gaining trust requires brands to meet the “functional and emotional needs” of consumers, she said.

“Brands need to get the basics right, such as offering good products and services at a competitive price as well as doing that in a competent, reliable, consistent, dependable and responsive [way],” Dr Bowden said.

“But brands also need to meet consumers’ personal, societal and emotional needs if they are to gain their trust. For example, brands need to also deliver on purpose – they need to be honest, ethical, authentic, benevolent and have integrity.”

Price and basic service “can only get you so far as a brand”, Dr Bowden said, with research showing that “brands that have a clear purpose are four to six times for likely to be defended by consumers, championed, and trusted”.

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