Truth is proud to have been invited to speak at this year’s Customer Experience Africa Summit, hosted by Kinetic Events, in Cape Town on 22 and 23 July.

Amongst the line up of great speakers were Marks & Spencer, DHL Express and Uber, sharing their learnings on customer experience management. Lisa Reid, MD of Truth shared her thoughts on all things customer engagement and how to turn data into valuable insights to develop effective customer engagement strategies.

One of the key messages evolving over the 2 days was how customer behaviours and expectations have changed as a result of new and evolving social & digital technology. The “new” consumer is always on, using multiple channels to engage with brands, all on THEIR terms, 24/7. This change has led to the evolution of engagement, which is one that uses the power of data to be more personalised and relevant to customers, with a clear focus on delivering the most seamless customer experience across all channels.

Lisa Reid, MD of Truth, sharing her thoughts and experience on customer engagement strategies at CEM Africa Summit, held in Cape Town.

Lisa Reid, MD of Truth, sharing her thoughts and experience on customer engagement strategies at the CEM Africa Summit, held in Cape Town.

We have summarised our top 3 trends from the conference in customer experience management for you.

1. Customer expectations keep evolving
Prelini Udayan Chiechi, Vice President of Marketing at Bazaarvoice spoke about the evolution of customer expectations due to the blurred lines between online and offline experiences.
According to Chiechi, the evolution of customer expectations looks something like this: About 5 years ago everything was about “Convenience”. Whether it was buying or browsing for information online, all consumers wanted was a constant flow of relevant information being fed to them at a touch of a button. “Convenience” then shifted to “Delight”. Amazon is at the forefront of delight with South African counterparts like takealot.com following suit. By offering effective online experiences through simple user functionalities, such as saving customer details for their next purchase, delivering products a few days before delivery date, and easy and safe payment options. Chiechi concluded that we are now in the state of demanding “Frictionless” experiences… customers expect nothing but the most seamless experience across all touchpoints and channels.

Uber demonstrated how they do “frictionless” really well. They have mastered customer experience through an incredible value offering that meets customers where they are, when they want it and continues to grow its value proposition through listening to the demands and needs of their customers.

2. A single view of the customer in an omni-channel world
At Truth, we believe that businesses need to stop viewing their customers in silos. Companies are struggling to meet their customers on multiple levels and platforms. Even though, in today’s environment, organisations have the opportunity to collect data about customers at every single touch point of engagement and “stitch” these interactions together to form one unified picture and ultimately create the single view of the customer. Companies need to see their customers’ interactions with them as holistic and adopt data collection and delivery through an omni-channel approach.

To deliver an omni-channel experience and become truly customer centric you have got to invest in a customer centric infrastructure, processes and people. Traditional legacy systems were never built according to the needs of the customer and therefore, when embarking on this journey, an entire redesign of systems, internal processes and people management needs to take place.
This leads us to the next trend….

3. Change management is non-negotiable in the customer centricity equation

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” At Truth, we believe this statement could not be more relevant than ever, when applied to adopting a customer centric/omni-channel approach. If you fail to have executive level buy-in, you will never get the project off the ground. If you don’t have buy-in from front line staff, the strategy execution will fall flat at the coldface of the customer interaction.
Silke McCarthy, Head of Customer Service Quality and Programs Manager, DHL Express, echos this sentiment: “Your customers’ experience can only match that of your employees. If you don’t have passionate emotionally engaged staff, you cannot sustain the delivery of your services. Make them feel and believe they own it”.

Having had the opportunity to engage with and listen to some of South Africa’s leading brands, it is evident that customer enaggement is the key brand differentiator of the future. Customer loyalty is no longer based on product quality or price, it’s about the customer enagagement experience you are able to deliver.