Taking care of customers has been a monumental task in 2020, and our very best organisations have just been recognised with the naming of the 7th annual Quality Service Awards. These organisations have tapped into an important new level of empathy, with a crucial human touch during the crisis. But the survey to find the winners has also revealed that our own expectations, as customers, have shifted as a response to the challenges of the pandemic.

We now put more thought into our choice of products and services, and most of us (67%) are more money conscious since the start of the pandemic.

The 2021 Quality Service Awards is an independent survey, conducted by a leading research company, with the awards commissioned by and appearing exclusively in Australian Reader’s Digest. The survey identifies the most satisfied customers across 40 different categories, from Hardware to Holidays and from Supermarkets to Superannuation.

“It’s fair to say that something remarkable happened in customer service this year,” notes Australian Reader’s Digest Editor-in-Chief Louise Waterson.

“As the full impact and potential dangers of the pandemic became apparent, we saw a fundamental shift in values, with economic considerations taking a back seat to moral responsibility.

“At the top, the profit for shareholders was no longer seen as the chief responsibility of doing business. The shift put the community, and individuals, as equally important stakeholders and, as a result, corporations and business turned their focus to see what they could do to share the burden of keeping people safe.”

Leading research agency Catalyst Research was commissioned to survey a representative sample of 2,500 Australians, using five key criteria for the survey – including personalisation, understanding, simplicity, satisfaction, and consistency.

Two thirds of Australians (67%) say they are more money conscious now since the start of the pandemic, with 63% of Australian consumers acknowledging that they put more thought now into their choice of products and services during the COVID pandemic. A further 58% of Australian consumers would consider the quality of the product and service during the pandemic and they (51%) are more likely to purchase the product or service if it has won an award.

Almost half of the Australians surveyed are doing more online shopping now, especially for younger people. The reasons people gave for doing more online shopping include: lockdown, convenience, safety, avoiding crowds.

Food, groceries, clothes and shoes are the most common products that people have increased buying online.

Men and younger people are more likely to have increased their online shopping across all categories. And 8 in 10 Australians are concerned about the quality of the products or service they purchased online, while three quarters are concerned about fraud.

The full list of Australian Quality Service Award winners for 2021 can be seen here.