Despite empirical evidence stating that companies can significantly improve their bottom line, by improving their customers' satisfaction scores, results from a recent benchmarking study show that companies do not prioritise customer experience (CX) strategies.

nlighten's 2019 South Africa Business CX Benchmark Report shows there is strong awareness of customer service as a driver of long-term value, but a lack of tangible and coherent application of practical solutions to achieve it.

Silo mentality and lack of leadership

This reflects a lack of leadership by executives to ingrain a culture of placing the customer first. Results from the study reported that 72% of companies view CX as a critical part of their overall strategy, although only 18% see it as a focus area for management.

Coupled with responses from executives and senior management, who rated their customer satisfaction levels higher — at 73% and 68% respectively — than middle management (60%), there's an argument to be made that senior leaders are not being true to themselves.

By comparison, the study's overall customer satisfaction index averaged out at 70%, and measured 12 business focus areas. The areas of focus included:
  • trust
  • innovation
  • customer feedback
  • how they made customers feel
  • staff management
  • personalisation
  • ease of doing business
  • the outside-in approach
  • measuring customer satisfaction
  • staff empowerment
  • articulating value
  • innovation
The report reveals that executives are far removed from what is happening on the ground. This is especially more pronounced in larger organisations. The study showed that companies with fewer than 100 staff have the highest client satisfaction index (78%), while those with more than 1 000 staff have the lowest (63%).

Another interesting outcome that shows that larger and older companies struggle to change their culture is that 80% of respondents said that silo mentality was one of their top three challenges in terms of getting better customer satisfaction results.

Focus on the emotions your customers experience

South African companies who are truly wanting to embrace Customer Satisfaction Week need to seek the emotive elements their customers experience when buying from them.

When we talk about customer experience, we're really talking about the emotions that customers experience when engaging with a brand through all the different touchpoints.

The reality is that different customers will experience it differently, so one needs to devise strategies and engagements that talk to these different customer types. This will be easier for smaller companies and those with a smaller or simpler product range. When going further up the food chain, this becomes more complex and this means that you have to place a greater emphasis on your CX focus.

Unfortunately, the results from the study show that this is seldom the case. There might be discussion and agreement at boardroom level that this needs to happen, but all too often budget allocations show that CX does not get the focus that it demands.

In an ideal world, the large corporates with the thousands of employees need a chief customer officer who is able to move the CX agenda forward. This is the only way to engender a company-wide shift in culture to focus on the customer.

And that culture — in organisations of any size — should be focused on understanding what value their brand adds to the customer. If your staff are able to articulate this value, then you are already making significant progress.

Always ask yourself if you know why your customers buy from you, and how you want to treat your customers, because as the study indicates, all too few companies are able to articulate this clearly.

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