Customer Trends and Values Report

Customer Trends and Values Report 2021

19
minutes

Do you know what your customers love about your organisation?
What do they find challenging?
What would make them change to another service provider?

This report contains the answers to these questions because we asked them. By surveying hundreds of individual NDIS participants and primary carers, the report identifies how people are accessing disability support services in Australia and uncovers what’s most important to them.

Disability support organisations like yours are doing great things. They contribute to a more positive future for hundreds of thousands of Australians. We asked questions to ensure that the future only gets brighter from here — by helping you to deliver what your customers want — not just what they need.

The answers are important because the biggest trend in the industry is customer empowerment.

“They value me as a person, see my strengths, and also the support I require. They do not feel the need to fix me.”

NDIS participant, Regional VIC

As the NDIS matures, new participants and primary carers looking for services will slow from a flood to a trickle. In the future, the majority of your customers will feel clearer about what they want and what they value from you — their service providers. They’ll be using more services, find it easier to switch providers, and be actively seeking the services that deliver what they want the most.

Methodology

The findings in this report come from an Australian survey of 691 respondents (250 NDIS participants and 441 primary carers/guardians) from October to November 2020. GoodHuman worked with The Evolved Group to deliver this research and assess the experience of people accessing support services on the NDIS.

Quote Illustrations

"A lot of the organisations I contacted had very generic, impersonal services. I felt alone…It seemed like they weren't really there to help me. Customer service is important to me because I need an organisation I can trust to take that unnecessary burden away from me"

NDIS participant, Brisbane
Quote Illustration

"The people on the phone were very understanding and patient and helped me through the whole process. The paperwork processes looked so overwhelming but once [my support organisation] were on board they made it simple…"

Primary carer of a child (age 0-18), Brisbane
Chapter 1:
Customers are taking charge
Phone in hend

Your future customers are informed and looking for support organisations they can trust

2020 marked an incredible milestone for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, as Minister for the NDIS, Stuart Robert, announced the completion of the staged geographical roll-out of the scheme. More than 412,500 Australians are now being supported by the scheme.

That’s an achievement worth celebrating. Lives are being enriched and empowered by the support of organisations like yours, every day.

In the future, we will see this empowerment further strengthened as more people become comfortable with accessing services through the system.

Bar chart displaying how long participants and carers have used NDIS funded services

1 in 5 respondents are currently looking for a new support organisation

The market for NDIS services is already active — more than half of our survey respondents having looked in the last 12 months. In fact, at any given time, one in five people receiving NDIS services are on the lookout for a new support organisation. Yes, that includes right now.

Customers are actively looking for new support organisations

53% have looked for new services in the last 12 months

63% would consider other support organisations if they were easier to find

34% of experienced people (3+yrs) are looking for a new provider because they are unhappy with their current services

Customers love support services that are easy to access

67% wish accessing support services was simpler

Finding the right organisation to work with can be a daunting experience. Half of all respondents in their first year of receiving support services reported that it’s hard to find a support organisation.

While people are grateful when they can access the services they need, they don’t necessarily trust that they’re receiving the kind or quality of services they want.  

But this is shifting. And will continue to do so, because the longer a person is on the NDIS, the more comfortable they become.

Of those who have been receiving services for five or more years, only 28% report finding a support organisation to be difficult. While this still sees more than a quarter of customers struggling, it’s clear that being armed with experience and information can improve this process over time. People that report having a positive experience often attribute this to an exceptional support worker or service that helped them identify services they were eligible for or made the process easy.

In the future, customers will have diverse experiences across many services and organisations, giving them the confidence and smarts to compare offerings in the market. The good news is there are actions you can take now to ensure they find you when they’re looking.

Top 3 challenges in finding service providers:

  • Range of services/lack of availability
  • Felt overwhelmed/found it hard to find information
  • Poor customer service

The bottom line: caring for your customers is not the same as helping your customers feel cared about.

No one wants to feel like a number. People appreciate the support they receive from frontline workers, but they want more help on the customer service side, where things feel less personal. Read on to explore more of what your customers want to see if your organisation can make it easier for customers to feel valued at every interaction.

Tip: It’s common for people to struggle with finding available services and information. Then when they do find it, many report that they can’t get a prompt response from anyone they contact. If you can solve these pain points by delivering simple, professional and accessible customer service — you stand to benefit the most as people move between services.

Lady with the dog

People appreciate their support organisations more when they feel like they are being put first:

"It becomes a positive experience when the organisation listens to the needs of the person whom I am the main caregiver and arrange for appropriate support when I need it and not just when it suits them. When they listen and respond to the needs of the NDIS participant and work around them."

Primary carer of an adult (age 18+), Melbourne
Chapter 2:
Customers are taking charge
People

Your customers value trust, competence, and convenience

We asked customers to rate what they valued most, so that service organisations can deliver a more positive experience.

Top 3 factors customers value in choosing a service provider:

  1. Staff that are competent and trustworthy / A reputation for delivering high quality service
  2. Availability of services at a suitable time
  3. Help identifying the services I qualify for

Primary carers of a child under 18 need less help identifying services, but availability of services at a suitable time is a big challenge for this group. 70% say availability of services is their biggest driver in choosing a service provider, compared to 44% of adult participants or primary carers of an adult.

Very few respondents place a premium on cost, with only 3% ranking cost above quality. While value is a concern for many, cost is something that is seen as controlled by the NDIS. What people want is a strong connection with their support organisations, with responsive service and clear answers.

How do you become a support organisation that your customers love?


It’s simple really: people value good service that makes them feel like a human, not a number. Your customers are looking for responsiveness with care and empathy.

For people to trust your organisation, they want to be treated well by every person associated with your business, not just from frontline workers. They want clear records kept and shared with their support workers and individual service tailored to their preferences.

Top 3 things valued by people receiving services on NDIS:

  1. Good Customer Service
  2. Responsive
  3. Care and Empathy

To understand what people mean by “good customer service”, we asked them what they would suggest to make it better.

NDIS Participants

  1. Better communication / fast / straight and understandable answers
  2. Better care and support / staff training
  3. A Phone App / Online / Instant bookings / a central point of contact

Primary carers

  1. More staff / service availability
  2. Better communication / fast / straight and understandable answers
  3. A Phone App / Online / Instant bookings / a central point of contact

Availability and clear communication improve both the experience and perceived value of services

62% of respondents feel like they get value from their NDIS program

The majority of people feel they get value from the services they receive on the NDIS. But, a different pattern emerged when we looked at the number of services a person uses. Value declines for people who use multiple support organisations. The more they use, the less likely they are to agree that they are getting value for money.

Line graph showing the percentage of survey respondents who feel they get value from their support organisation versus the number of support organisation they use.

Compare this to the things people suggested could be improved: communication, availability, and ease of access for appointments. It’s likely that people using services across multiple organisations are less likely to perceive good value for money because of the juggling act they experience.

61% of people feel that coordinating services across different organisations is hard work

68% of people find it frustrating whenever they have to explain support requirements to new people

Tip: For organisations who provide multiple services, offering consolidation and clear communication across all services could reduce frustration and increase customer satisfaction.

Chapter 3:
Opportunities for disability support organisations
Where to form here

Trust is the best way to bolster your reputation and customer satisfaction

We also asked people where they looked for services, to help support organisations meet them at the source. What we discovered is that no single source dominates a customer’s search, but what does stand out is seeking a trusted opinion.

You can reach almost half of all customers with a referral from a GP/allied health worker and a friend with experience — 46% of all respondents use both of these highly trusted referral sources to select a support organisation.

In fact, advice from someone with direct experience is just as persuasive as a referral from other professional services, such as Support Coordinators and Local Area Coordinators.

The takeaway: Having a positive customer service experience from the start not only helps establish a strong relationship with your customers, it makes you more likely to benefit from word of mouth referrals. The better service you provide, the stronger your reputation is likely to be.

Make it easier (and faster) for customers to connect with you

Researching and managing support services is eating into the personal lives of a lot of people accessing the NDIS.

55% of respondents said they spend more of their free time online researching and connecting with others to discuss support services than they do on personal activities they enjoy

More than a quarter of individual NDIS participants (26%) say that time spent online managing their support services takes up “a huge amount of my time!”

With experience, this goes down substantially. 29% of those who have been receiving services for more than four years say they don’t spend any time, compared to just 17% overall.

So how can support organisations better assist customers and use this opportunity to bring more people onto their services? No surprises here — like most things, the answer is technology.

People are ready to use technology to coordinate with their support organisations

We surveyed NDIS participants and primary carers about whether they would consider using an app to discover and/or manage services with their support organisations. Overall, people are very receptive to using an app, with 81% of respondents indicating they would consider using an app to help manage direct communication, service discovery, bookings and schedules, or their NDIS budget.

This jumps to 88% for primary carers of children under 18. We also found that the youngest demographic (18-34) of both participants and primary carers are the most likely to be bothered by paperwork and coordinating services across multiple providers.

It’s worth noting that the 2020-2021 Q1 report for the NDIS indicated that 48% of NDIS participants are currently under 18. It’s safe to say that a desire to adopt technology to manage services is only going to increase with time. Their primary carers are ready to use tech now and those who go on to manage their own services will be too.

Primary carers of children under 18 are especially keen to utilise technology to:

  • Communicate directly and coordinate appointments (73%)
  • Book services directly without have to speak to someone in person (59%)
  • Manage their NDIS budget (57%)
  • Help discover what services are available to the person I care for (54%)

Tip: Making a booking online (whether via an app or website) is an option that would be adopted quickly by customers. More than half of all respondents who are currently looking for services indicated that they would like to book services directly, without having to speak to someone on the phone, via email, or in person.

Where to form here
Where to from here?

Make people feel cared about, always

As we’ve seen from our findings, the message from customers is loud and clear. They want prompt, personalised communication and easier access to the services that are important to them.

The top takeaways from the report are that:

  1. Lots of people are currently looking for more services and new support organisations: There’s plenty of opportunities to engage with people and connect them to your organisation, especially if you can provide flexible availability and prompt booking methods. This will improve the quality of experience so existing customers also get more from your services.
  2. Customer programs should not be ‘set and forget’: Check in with your existing customers to make sure they are still happy with your services. Remember that people are most likely to seek new services around the 3-4 year mark due to dissatisfaction with their current provider.
  3. People value empathetic customer service and quality, personalised support: Making customers feel cared about in every interaction, from every member of your organisation, will increase the perceived value of your services and improve customer satisfaction.
  4. People trust referrals more than other sources: Positive experiences can bolster your reputation and in turn, increase referrals.
  5. Online bookings can reduce friction: By allowing people to book and manage their appointments more easily, your customers get a prompt response and spend more time doing things they enjoy.

Most service organisations are known for the exceptional care and support they provide. If you apply this level of care to your customer service interactions and the way you bring people on to your services, you’ll provide greater experiences for every customer — and stand out from the crowd.

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