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Bunnings tops list for Aussies looking for a deal as big supermarkets and banks snubbed

Here's how brands are winning consumer loyalty amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Bunnings, the red and green warehouse that wins over the appetites of sausage-sizzle loving Aussies every weekend, has also claimed the hearts of the nation.

Bunnings has knocked out some of the country's biggest brands to secure the top spot for offering the best customer service, according to the latest KPMG Customer Experience Excellence Report — which collects the views of more than 2,500 Aussie consumers.

"This acknowledgement is a testament to our incredible team and their ongoing commitment to providing customers with the best experience," Mike Schneider, Bunnings Managing Director, told Yahoo Finance.

External shot of a Bunnings store and car park
Bunnings has come out on top in the KPMG Customer Experience Excellence Report 2023. (Source: Getty) (Getty)

"I want to thank them for their efforts in going the extra mile and bringing passion to what they do every day. Maintaining trust with our customers is something we work really hard at, and will remain our focus so we continue to earn the right to be chosen."

It's the first time the hardware giant has topped the table after placing fourth in 2021, the last time the survey was run.

10 top Australian businesses for customer service: Major banks and supermarkets snubbed

There wasn't a single supermarket or major bank on the list, with The Body Shop and Mecca coming in second and third respectively. Bendigo Bank was the only financial institution to make the top 10, which looks like this:

1. Bunnings

2. The Body Shop

3. Mecca

4. Specsavers

5. Chemist Warehouse

6. The Iconic

7. Bendigo Bank

8. Dan Murphy's

9. Apple

10. JB Hi-Fi

"The thing to read into here is that the retailers who are maintaining customers' confidence are the ones who are clearly building their customer and brand reputation in a situation where customers are looking to save a bit of money because of the cost-of-living issue," Stephen King, a professor of economics at Monash University, told Yahoo Finance.

Customers searching for a fair deal

King pointed out that the list has got quite a number of firms which are known for offering good deals to customers. "You've got Bunnings here, you've got Chemist Warehouse, you've got Specsavers, you've got Dan Murphy's," he said. "So these are businesses that have built a reputation around good value for customers, but also making sure that they provide good customer experience."

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KPMG said it shows that consumers are evaluating their relationship with leading brands and making new, economic value-based choices in a year marked by a challenging economic environment.

"We see customer perceptions of value formed by how they feel about service and support," Carmen Bekker, Partner-in-Charge at KPMG Customer said. "It is also formed by how organisations demonstrate their purpose, relevance and ability to have a positive long-term impact on the environment and society."

Coles and Woolworths are an example of this, with social media full of complaints about their new security measures, or the serious backlash that followed their bumper profits.

The big four banks - Westpac, NAB, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ - are also at the forefront of cash rate hikes, passing on interest rate rises to Australians struggling with the cost of living.

Customers queueing up at Bunnings to be served by a worker (left) and a customer being helped by a Bunnings staff member (right)
It's the first time Bunnings has topped the table after coming in fourth in 2021. (Source: Getty) (Getty)

What else is winning customer loyalty?

The research, which surveys more than 20,000 people around the world, also revealed that 97 per cent of customers said that cost-of-living pressures have impacted their purchasing decisions. But despite the focus on value for money, brand purpose and impact are still major influencers on consumers with 61 per cent of global respondents willing to pay more to a company that is seen as being ethical or giving back to society.

While Aussies are becoming savvier and demanding more for their dollar, KPMG said it's also the digitisation of customer journeys that has helped move the bar for consumer perceptions.

"Leading brands have been able to integrate these digital journeys with in-store experiences, recognising many Australians have retail journeys that begin online but also include an in-store touchpoint," Bekker said.

Personal touch in a digital world

King added that it's this digital experience that's becoming more important for customers, whether it's making sure the right products are on the shelf, to making sure customers who are registered are receiving emails that are relevant to them.

"The differentiator is that the retailers we've got here, including Bunnings, have done a really good job of making sure that they're using modern technology while not making customers feel like they’re lost in some sort of digital world," he said. "They also keep a personal touch in there and they make sure they have staff who are experienced and who can talk to customers."

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