Consumers rate banks and airlines as the organisations with the best customer service, well ahead of retailers and telcos at the bottom of the pack, according to a new report.
The Customer Experience Index, commissioned by digital agency Track, compares the performance of Kiwi companies in creating loyalty and delivering customer service.
The research pulls together insights from more than 1000 Kiwis' interactions with organisations in different industries.
Track chief executive Rob Limb would not provide the names of the companies involved but did note there were some clear gaps in performance across the sectors.
Right at the bottom of the list were telecommunication and broadband providers, which isn't altogether surprising given these companies often receive the most customer complaints in any given year.
Limb puts this down to the impact of outside influences, saying that a lot can go wrong with the infrastructure that makes these services possible. For example, if a phone line dies or internet connectivity drops, it's often the provider that gets the earful, despite this being outside the control of the company.
"If you're a broadband provider you are rather more reliant on people outside of your control," said Limb.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have the banks, which have essentially become the masters of controlling customer experience.
"Banking is right ahead of the game," Limb said.
"Over the last five to 10 years, large banking organisations have put a lot of investment into improving customer experience and can control more of the experience."
Aviation also scored well on the whole, but there was a marked gap between airlines perceived as providing good customer experience and those seen as downright poor - indicating that some players are perhaps not doing enough to keep their customers happy.
Fast food, grocery and online TV/streaming are other high-performing categories.
In light of the results of the report, Limb said businesses need to start using data for more than simply surveillance.
"New Zealanders don't want to be targets," he said.
"The reality is customers do have the keys now and they expect their data to be used to help make better decisions not just be cross-sold effectively and I think that's a shift all organisations across all sectors have to make."
He points to an example of luxury-car manufacturer BMW sending video to customers during a service to keep them involved in the process or retailers such as Macpac emailing receipts to customers for convenience.
French cosmetics chain Sephora has a mobile app which uses customer data and facial recognition to help shoppers virtually test make up, using video content to follow up with consumers.
"They are letting customers play with their technologies and data to make better [shopping] decisions and make their experience come to life, and not just in their stores," Limb said.
"If customer experience and satisfaction is important then organisations need to start thinking about how they use data to help customers and enable them in their lives, not just sell them the next best product."
Other examples of using data to create effective customer service include Air New Zealand's wearable Airband for children travelling by themselves, which sends updates and tracking information to guardians about their whereabouts.
And banks using customer data to analyse spending habits to provide warnings, such as those which send alerts that by the end of the month a customer will be overdrawn.
Limb, who has extensive experience working in the UK, US and Australia, said New Zealand was around two to three years behind the rest of the world in using data effectively to enhance customer experiences.
Retail NZ general manager of public affairs, Greg Harford, said brands needed to recognise that good customer experience starts before a customer is in-store.
"One of the opportunities for retailers and a number of businesses to improve is on that emotional connection to their customers," Harford said. "You want consumers to think of your brand as part of their family and part of their daily life."
He said the retail sector should be using such data to build an emotional connection with consumers.
"One of the challenges and opportunities for the sector is to make use of data to build that emotional connection," he said. "The more you understand your customer the better you are able to develop the marketing to build that emotional connection.
"Customers are looking for convenience, they want businesses to make it easy and they don't appreciate when there are hurdles in the way of them getting on with what they want to do."