Elevating CX in South Africa: Breaking the “Good Enough” Barrier 

Customer experience (CX) is the key differentiator in a shrinking world where consumers are increasingly spoiled for choice. Studying both customers and competitors can help brands deliver an experience that keeps them coming back, writes Werner Crafford, head of performance at Rogerwilco.

Relatively simple changes can help marketers overcome the substandard service, quality and reliability that consumers have become used to

South Africans are typically an apathetic bunch. How many people do you know who wait until literally the last day to file their tax returns, or paid way too much for roses on Valentine’s Day because they waited for the morning of? Now now really means just now, and who knows when that actually is.

On a serious note though, we are seeing growing levels of apathy —call it a general lack of interest— amongst South Africans regarding expectations and delivery of CX, where “good” is quickly becoming “good enough”. In our fifth annual edition of The South African Customer Experience Report, released in 2023 in partnership with ovatoyou and Julia Ahlfeldt CX Consulting, consumers benchmarked their satisfaction with customer experience against several sectors. The grocery and restaurant / fast food sectors came out relatively well, but the insurance, automotive and medical aid sectors fared quite poorly, and the state is in a bad state!                                                           

We have essentially let our standards slide so far that we are willing to let brands get away with substandard service, quality and reliability. Marketers, however, can break the “good enough” barrier by making relatively simple changes to how they engage their customers.  

In a marketplace of burgeoning options and interconnectedness, great CX is a key differentiator. A recent PwC report found that 73% of US consumers cited CX as a major influence on their purchasing decisions, and yet only 49% said that businesses got it right. In a separate study, Gartner revealed that CX drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty – more than price and brand combined.

Knowledge is power

If there’s a disconnect, it’s hurting companies already, and that hurt will only grow. To rise above mediocrity, brands need to connect with their customers, and you can’t connect with people unless you understand them. Crucially, this means more than a superficial understanding of what you think they want; it means delving into their desires, aspirations, motivations and pain points.

Those on the front lines of CX in South Africa have the ability to bring a unique perspective to their roles, contributing to a customer service culture that is grounded in real-world experiences and a deep understanding of the local context. And the ever-growing amount of data that consumers provide online, whether intently or inadvertently, offers a wealth of opportunities to do that. Of course, this tidal wave of data can be overwhelming, making it difficult to prioritise and identify patterns. That’s why it pays to partner with experienced agencies that can aggregate and interpret that data in a way that delivers clear insights and narratives that help you understand your customers as people, rather than just data points.

A holistic digital CX strategy that includes services such as social media management and enhanced search engine optimisation (SEO) can improve the quality of your interactions with customers, establish a consistent message across all your brand touchpoints, increase conversion rates and ensure your brand’s relevance as the digital landscape evolves. 

Seeking a competitive edge

However, as important as understanding your customers is, no business operates in a vacuum. Of equal importance is understanding your competitors and your position in the market relative to them.

It’s a similar sort of story here in terms of nuance and detail. You can’t just browse their marketing and social media presence and expect to understand how you shape up in comparison; you want to know your competitors as well as you do (or should) your customers. What are they doing right and wrong, what are their strengths and weaknesses, who are their closest competitors? More importantly, who are you competing with online for your customers’ attention and share of wallet?

Positioning in the market hierarchy is also important. Comparing your start-up to the incumbent industry giant may not necessarily be all that relevant beyond cultivating an aspirational target. This process is somewhat different for online competitors compared to those in the traditional offline world. The freedom of choice and comparison, decoupled from geographical constraints, can make identifying the competition more difficult, let alone suss them out deeply.

Rising above

Knowing your competitor’s approach, along with where it succeeds and fails, can help your brand differentiate itself and offer superior CX. Combined with a deep understanding of your customers, you can equip yourself to move actively on improving CX – adopting a proactive, rather than a reactive approach, the latter of which will almost always find you on the back foot.

Rogerwilco’s WOLF Report, for example, is a comprehensive competitor analysis tool comprising an average of 2 million data points, collated and interpreted into eight key metrics that can be used to baseline the competition, presented in a user-friendly layer that brings order and enables insights to be gleaned from the information.

It’s the sort of information any brand needs to rise above good enough and deliver intelligent, impactful and memorable CX. Who wants to be apathetic? Get enthusiastic about the experience you offer your customers, and they’ll get enthusiastic about you.

This story was published in Redzone

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