Are you missing out on attracting customers?

Research focused on improving consumer experience has found that companies in Australia are missing out on customers from diverse backgrounds.

Excerpts from this research and a panel discussion was a part of the Dive in Festival session on ‘The business case for Consumer Diversity’ at the QBE Australia Sydney offices along with partners Sparke Helmore Lawyers and Willis Tower Watson.

The report called, ‘Missing Out: The business case for customer diversity’ has urged companies to have “a greater focus on diversity and inclusion”, finding that a lack of focus is causing companies to lose sales.

Among the key findings, the report said only 41 per cent surveyed believed that “organisations treat customers respectfully, regardless of their personal characteristics”.

“Diverse customer groups are more likely to represent a lost sale, with far too many reporting that organisations do not provide the products or services they need,” the report said.

The panel discussion was facilitated by Juliet Bourke – Human Capital Partner at Deloitte and featured: Sam Almaliki, Commissioner – Victorian Multicultural Commission and MC – Activate Global, Bettina Pidcock, Chief Customer Officer – QBE Australia, Sam Turner, Head of Inclusion and Diversity – Westpac Group and Paul Zahra, Global Retail Advisor.

Zahra said, “Managers like to homogenise people but there is tremendous business opportunity in diverse customers.”

On being asked what is the one thing small businesses could do to know how to tap into their diverse customer base, Bourke’s suggestion was, “Ask for feedback on how you can meet the needs of customers around diversity.”

Research was conducted via an online survey of 1200 people and researchers aimed to “compare and contrast the experiences and expectations of people based on specific demographic characteristics, namely gender, cultural background, age, sexual orientation, disability and noticeable faith”.

The report added there was “unconscious bias”, causing customers with a diverse background to be “misunderstood or misserviced”. Only half believed that ensuring customers were treated respectfully was a priority for businesses.

Bourke said that this finding was appalling and that little things matter & are easy to get right to tap into a diverse customer base

The panel concluded that there is a long term impact if diverse customers are not treated well and every organisation, big or small should  integrate diversity practices to prevent such impact.