Demanding Australians have lower tolerance for inconvenient businesses

Dave Scheine, Country Manager, Australia at Podium

Aussie consumers say their tolerance for poor business communication has decreased since the pandemic and are willing to blacklist businesses who don’t cater to their preferences, according to a study by Podium, the communications and payments platform for businesses.

What were the findings of the study?

The Business-to-Customer Communications Report, which sought to understand what consumers want from businesses post-pandemic, reveals that convenience trumps cost, with over half of Aussies willing to pay more for convenient communication. Millions of businesses embraced digital transformation, and today, their clients have high expectations.

Almost half (48%) of Australians say as a result of the pandemic and the digitisation of businesses, they have less tolerance for local businesses that don’t offer easy, convenient or customer-friendly means of communication. Meanwhile, more than half (57%) would be less likely to engage with a business if the channel was inconvenient, while 55% would choose a business that offered convenient communication options, even if it was more expensive

One of the biggest changes comes in how Aussies want to interact with businesses. The average Aussie spends almost two hours (119 minutes) a day on their smartphones, with one in four spending at least three. For Aussie businesses, tapping into this affinity to – and reliance on – smartphones, is a significant opportunity. Half of Australians (49%) say that businesses that use SMS to communicate appear more professional than those that don’t.

It comes as the most convenient channels for consumers change. Email, once the primary means of communication between businesses and consumers has been surpassed by SMS. Three-quarters (76%) say they’re reliant on SMS reminders to manage their daily life tasks, while 69% say an SMS reminder has saved them from missing an upcoming appointment. 

The value of SMS comes as email becomes less impactful. Almost half (46%) of Australians have deleted an email from a business without opening it in the last 24 hours, while almost two-thirds (62%) have ignored an unsolicited call from a business in the last week. 

Other highlights of the research include:

  • 73% of Australian consumers blacklist businesses that spam them with regular or inconvenient marketing;

  • 70% prefer speaking to local businesses with a human presence rather than one that uses bots or AI;

  • 50% would much  rather communicate with a business via text or online chat than phone call;

  • 36% believe local businesses still don’t understand their preferences as a consumer.

What were the executives’ thoughts on the findings?

“Australia is home to millions of innovative local businesses, but in a saturated market it’s not easy to compete on price or product. Our research shows that many consumers now judge businesses based on communication, with many willing to pay more money for a more convenient experience,” commented Dave Scheine, Country Manager, Australia at Podium

“Support for local business is strong and inspiring in Australia, but consumers are clearly losing patience for businesses that fail to cater to their habits and preferences,” he added.

“As global economic headwinds circle, and Aussie households become more cautious about their discretionary spending, every lead, interaction and sale takes on added significance for local businesses. Those who recognise how their audience is changing, then cater to their habits with convenient communications strategies, will be better placed to succeed.”

Joel Mullins, Dealer Principal at Motorama Kia Moorooka, said: “We’re one of hundreds of dealerships in our area, so standing out isn’t easy. We decided the best way to acquire and retain customers was through a  focus on our customer communication. Rather than phone calls or emails back and forth, our customers can engage with us via SMS and webchat; using it for everything from making enquiries and booking services to selling their used car.”

“Because the communication is at our clients’ convenience, it gives us an edge. Few people want to spend three hours negotiating at a dealership, but with us they don’t have to.”

“We’re being part of the customer’s journey more efficiently and effectively. We’re exceeding their expectations and we see that regularly in their online feedback. We’ve generated almost 1,300 leads, engaged in almost 3,000 text conversations and increased our Google rating from 4.41 to 4.8 – all because we’re focusing on our customers and their needs.”

For more data, including state-by-state breakdowns, view the report here