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In today’s increasingly fast-moving and competitive environment, consumer needs are rapidly changing and corporates are finding it challenging to keep up.
In today’s increasingly fast-moving and competitive environment, consumer needs are rapidly changing and corporates are finding it challenging to keep up.

Smart data for smarter customer experiences – Measuring what matters


By Jessi Wesson - Aug 23rd 2018, 16:12

“Consumer power has become a force that can no longer be ignored, many companies are grappling with their inability to effectively deliver on consumers' expectations.” - Rod Jones, reputable customer service excellence expert. 

Earlier this month, at the annual #CEMAfrica2018 Summit, Sarina De Beer, MD of AskAfrica delved into topics such as the need for smart data for smarter experiences, why customer loyalty is becoming a thing of the past and how to approach solutions to engaging with today's fickle social consumer.

De Beer opened her power keynote stating that in today’s increasingly fast-moving and competitive environment, consumer needs are rapidly changing and corporates are finding it challenging to keep up.

Measuring what matters

Businesses have been investing more in technology and internal processes than ever before. This has proven to pay off in terms of accessibility, as well as ease of engagement and customer service levels are at an an all-time high. However, as De Beer emphasises, we must not lose sight of the ‘human’ elements of customer engagement and retention. (People over processes).

Focus is often placed on measuring and tracking artificial forms of engagement and unrealistic ratings such as net promoter scores. This often leads to overinterpretation and drawing big conclusions based on these numbers that ultimately don't benefit the aim of customer-centricity and creating great customer experiences.

While technological advancements increase and improve overall satisfaction over time,"we need to place more emphasis on truly understanding our customers and listening to their feedback on what works for them and what doesn't work for them when dealing with our business, rather than being concerned about whether we are in control or not", says De Beer.

Customers are placing importance on more abstract issues and emotional content than ever before, such as the stability of employees as well as the 'millennial mindset' in relation to query responses.

"What most brands are not getting right yet, is relationship building, emotional connection and sustainable relationships with clients."

Pragmatic measurements alone will keep your business mediocre. Brands will only differentiate themselves and harness customer loyalty with the combination of both service and emotional satisfaction measurements.

Changing customer expectations and the decline of customer loyalty

From an intra-personal point of view, concern is often placed on AI and robots taking over our jobs but as De Beer points out, this is an unlikely outcome as our responsibilities are becoming far more complicated and customer engagement should be at the forefront of our concerns.

Unwavering brand loyalty is a thing of the past.

Why is this? Factors such as fake news, the impact of challenger brands, distrust in corporate and financial institutions, sentiment being removed from the workplace and being comfortable with change as consumers have all contributed to this significant decline in brand loyalty.

"What we think about something isn’t necessarily how we feel about it. That's a problem when it comes to consumer feedback surveys," says De Beer.

Consumers are becoming more fickle and are starting to migrate to more emotional language.

Social media, while giving us a voice, creates changing customer expectations 'on their terms'. As a whole, we are starting to disconnect and unlearn the ability to build relationships, however, "the need to connect won’t go away," says De Beer.

Cultivating longevity in commercial relationships does not depend solely on that birthday SMS. Customer's personal data is widely available to corporations. Sadly, it is not being used in a fruitful way when communicating and reaching out to customers in ways they would appreciate and value.

De Beer concluded with the thought that we need to rethink Maslow's hierarchy of needs and stay cognizant of the perpetually changing consumer in order to remain relevant.


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