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SA customers feel they are getting less value

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Customers in South Africa claim they are getting less value, according to Prof. Adré Schreuder, CEO of Consulta and founder and chair of the SA Customer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi).

At the same time, research shows an improvement in reducing customer complaints as well as in handling of complaints.

"But is this taking us forward regarding creating loyalty or not? We have seen that bar is not really moving. We are not getting massive movements on loyalty. Customers are even a little more confused," he explained at the opening of the Customer Experience Management (CEM) Africa Summit attended by more than 150 companies at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town.   

He quoted management guru Peter Drucker that there is only one valid definition of a business purpose and that is to create a customer.

During a panel discussion led by Schreuder, Eddie Moyce, former chief customer experience officer at MTN, said everybody talks about customer experience, but it is never translated into one, two or three organisations standing out.

"Executives must start thinking less about organisational structures around marketing and sales. Yes, the bottom line first looked at is about profit, but if customers start leaving in droves you must start thinking why," he said.

"Think carefully about how the customer becomes everybody’s business in the corporation. How do you get every single employee energised around the fact that without customers you might not exist in future."

In his view executives should even bring the voice of their customers into the boardroom to hear what they expect from the organisation.

Jean Ochse, head of benefits tracking and extraction at Standard Bank, explained that far too many tactical projects are run in organisations by various people when they should rather be aligned.

She emphasised the importance of meeting customers' emotional needs in order to ensure retention.

"A local survey has shown the growing importance of elements of 'humanness' when dealing with customers. That is the bottom line result we are trying to achieve," said Ochse.

Chantel Botha, head of brand design and customer experience strategy at BrandLove, said in her experience, organisations who did really well do not obsess about their competitors. They rather obsess about what their customers want from them.

"Also obsess about your staff. That will get you into the future. Many people see customer journey design as a silver bullet, but I think, more important than having a beautiful journey map on the wall, is to get staff to do real time CEM design, to face any situation and learn the art of anticipation, said Botha. "That will future proof your customer experience."

Lastly, Simon Cranswick, managing director of Anana Africa, warned that customer experience management is not something "you can buy in a box". It is about coordination.

"We do a lot of dashboard stuff, but is it really working? Are we properly listening to our customers? With every single investment we should be asking if it will impact our customers. It has to be an ongoing journey," he explained.

"It is not about call centres and customer relations management anymore. Customer experience must start right at the top with the CEO responding to social media, for instance."

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