Article first published on brainstormmag.co.za, written by Tamsin Oxford, 24 March 2021 | see article here
Welcome to the new digital world where personalisation and intelligent customer experiences define brands and redefine engagements.
If you look at the modern customer journey, it’s shaped by the rise of social media and the omnichannel approach.
It’s the world of instant gratification. The world where the customer isn’t just right, they’re monitoring your responses, tweeting their outrage and costing the inattentive business money. The ‘2020 South African Digital Customer Experience Report’, by marketing agency Rogerwilco, underscored the power of the customer with percentages that should give any brand pause for thought. Negative experiences are shared with friends and family by 56% of customers, but 39% simply never use the brand again and more than 30% report their experience on social media. When these statistics are held up against the cost of acquiring new customers (high) versus the profits earned from retaining existing ones (up to 140% more, according to Deloitte’s ‘The true value of customer experiences’), it’s clear that the customer has the power. And that power can be used to advocate for a brand, or seriously impact on its reputation.
This means that the customer must become the central pillar around which the organisation turns. The loyal customer fed and nurtured, given positive experiences and taken on journeys through the brand that feel rewarding and relevant. According to Forrester, achieving superior customer experiences ‘lies in a new customer insights paradigm: the next best experience (NBX)’. This is a combination of ensuring that your organisation is aligned throughout and that customer behaviour is contextualised to deliver optimal experiences in real-time. However, the problem is that the insights gleaned from customer data and analytics are being used disparately across multiple silos, which means that there’s no one cohesive customer view. Each department looks at t he information from a different perspective, skewing it in directions that fit the KPIs.
For Forrester, the resolution to this challenge lies in the concept of the NBX – the ability to identify and analyse signals throughout each customer journey so that experiences are delivered seamlessly in real-time. However, to achieve this level of relevant insight from a system that works requires the right tools. And in this realm, there lies so much choice that companies are often left wondering where to start, which brand to choose, which system to invest in, and what tech will really get the job done?
The right toolkit will vary depending on the company’s market, size and focus, as well as on what tools and systems are already in play. For most, the past year was a trial by fire. It shoved every company, whether it was ready or not, straight into the oven and told it not to burn. S ome didn’t, some did, many found inventive ways around the challenges that the pandemic brought. These lessons now need to be pulled into a cohesive CRM strategy that leverages intelligent technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and mixed reality to optimise operations, automate workflows and produce targeted messaging at scale. Solutions such as journey-mapping, marketing-automation, and CRM and customer data platforms are a solid investment right now. Names like Salesforce, HubSpot, Segment, SugarCRM, Zoho and Totango should be on the boardroom table and they should be complemented by a seamless flow of information across silos and a concise and clear view of how the company, as a whole, wants to approach the customer experience. It’s not too late to put the customer at the front of your company queue, especially the financial sector, a sector that failed to respond to 47.3% of customers during Covid-19, according to BrandsEye’s South African Banking Sentiment Index 2020.
Brainstorm: Why is it critical to embrace a customer-centric approach?
Craig Hannabus, strategy director, Rogerwilco: The internet has shrunk the world, and it has fundamentally altered people’s attitudes towards customer service. To survive, South African companies must baseline their offer not against their local competitors, but against some of the best companies in the world.
Abigail Klopper, personal brand content creator and strategist, Cafinnate Academy: Because of the fast pace of business, the increased volume of noise online and the shortening attention spans of online users, the merits of old-fashioned relationship-building and the human touch are making a resurgence in the values systems of a hyper-connected audience that is feeling more disconnected than ever.
Nivenia Davis, digital group account director, Clockwork Media: Now, more than ever before, in an age where customers have a wealth of information at their fingertips and plenty of options to choose from, they hold all the power. If a business wishes to be profitable, it needs to deliver value to the customer, and the only way to do this is through implementing a customer-centric approach.
JD Engelbrecht, MD, Everlytic: Personalisation yields major value for the customer, who can receive information, offers or deals specific to their circumstances and profile, eliminating the need to sift through content and offers that have no immediate relevance. This type of ease, speed and convenience is fast becoming a hallmark of business success.
Brainstorm: What is best practice in developing an unmatched CX?
Etienne Bruwer, founding partner and CEO, Magnetic Creative: Authenticity. If you are going to try to copy and paste what other competitors and service providers are doing, you’re not understanding and acknowledging the importance of a customer-centric approach.
Reynhardt Uys, group chief experience officer, Immersion Group: The secret lies in the curation of best practice within every discipline in the organisation that touches the customer – this unified approach to CX will ensure that each and every aspect of the business and its journey is refined and orchestrated with the goal of delighting the customer and exceeding expectations, time after time.
Neo Lekgabo, CEO, Lady Shield: An innovation-obsessed mindset is needed to build technology- and data-collection methods that drill deeper. Marketers have to value the investment that is knowing the customer and identifying them at a granular level.
Stephan Erasmus, senior strategist, Demographica: Creating customer value is a key driver for both business survival and business growth. If we consider that the perception of value is often made up of a lot of variables like product quality, price, customer experience and competing alternatives, to name a few, it makes sense to understand what matters to customers.
Andrew Bourne, business development manager, Zoho: It’s impossible to build relationships in silence. Customer communication should therefore be the cornerstone of any customer experience strategy.
Brainstorm: What are the best tools to create a relevant and personalised customer journey?
Haydn Townsend, managing director, Accenture Interactive Africa: Intelligent technologies such as conversational AI, IoT, machine learning and mixed reality are no longer science fiction. Organisations are adopting them to optimise operations, automate workflows, produce targeted messaging at scale and reduce costs.
James Bayhack, director for Sub-Saharan Africa, CM.com: Adopt an agile and flexible IT environment combined with a customer data platform that connects to multiple data points to create a single view of the customer, a 360-degree view of the customer, which allows you to engage in multichannel messaging on the channels most convenient for each customer.
Paula Sartini, founder and CEO, BrandQuantum: Several CRM tools are available to help companies deliver personalised experiences, however, the most effective solutions should help companies grow a relationship with customers and drive two-way communication, which is fundamental to relationship-building. As such, it is best to implement solutions that enable companies to deliver on-brand, personalised experiences without removing the human touch from customer engagements.
Nompumelelo Mokou, intelligent customer experience executive, Dimension Data: Personalisation should ensure that it does not constrict, but still gives the customers the power of choice, however directed. This is enabled by an integrated CRM into the organisation’s CX ecosystem, which alters communication with customers to meaningful engagements as opposed to selling opportunities.
Robin Fisher, area vice president, Emerging Markets, Salesforce: Marketers are increasingly tracking metrics like customer satisfaction, digital engagement, and lifetime customer value to gain a holistic picture of what’s working and what isn’t across the customer journey. B2B marketers have a particularly strong role in business growth through account-based marketing.
WHO ARE YOU?
Talking CRM, the customer journey, brand purpose and evolving technology with Discovery Vitality.
On the cusp of launching its very own bank, in 2018, Discovery set out on its own CRM journey. The company wanted to invest in a more agile and adaptable customer service platform that would ensure it remained service-orientated and committed to the core values of people and customer as it moved into a new and challenging space. According to Celeste Williams, head of marketing for Discovery Vitality, it was essential to find the best CRM platform as all the company’s technology and products are centred around the customer.
“If you put the customer at the heart of the company, it becomes quite easy to build technology around your data and understanding of customer and brand,” she says. “When the pandemic hit at the start of 2020, we were fortunate that we’d invested in the technology and resources already, and had a very clear brand promise and understanding.”
The platform proved its mettle in 2020, providing the company with a tool that allowed it to remain in contact with customers and maintain its brand focus of keeping people healthy and rewarded throughout the year. For Williams, this ability to stay in tune with customers, in spite of a global pandemic, really emphasised the importance of a company investing in a solid CRM platform.
“If you look at the modern customer journey, it’s shaped by the rise of social media and the omnichannel approach,” she says. “It has become important that customer journeys are s eamless. From the start, we wanted t o ensure that the customer journey is embedded into every product, from the moment it starts development. Marketing sits in on all the meetings to discuss the customer experience, working closely with systems and product design teams to ensure that user experiences and customer pathways are integrated throughout.”
Discovery’s CRM process led it to Hybris, a SAP eCommerce and CRM software that focuses on customer experience and management, providing access to a group of products designed to customise end-to-end customer engagement. This is supported by Everlytic for email control, and a series of internally built models and solutions designed to fit very specifically into the Discovery system and customer journey.iscovery’s CRM process led it to Hybris, a SAP eCommerce and CRM software that focuses on customer experience and management, providing access to a group of products designed to customise end-to-end customer engagement. This is supported by Everlytic for email control, and a series of internally built models and solutions designed to fit very specifically into the Discovery system and customer journey.
“We use a lot of different systems that filter into Hybris; it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution,” says Williams. “There are different systems we still have to develop and we’ve had to build quite a few attributes manually. We have a superb analytics and data team with multiple models built around the system that feed into different platforms to provide a deeper customer approach.”
Discovery examined numerous systems prior to settling on Hybris, but felt that this was the best choice in light of the incoming requirements of Discovery Bank and where the company was heading with the integration of products and managing customer expectations.
“Whether it’s vehicle care, banking or health, this system was the right fit to ensure that Vitality sat at the core of everything and achieved its goals of keeping people healthy, active and in control of their lives,” says Williams. “The programme had to grow with the company and be capable of supporting our commitment to ongoing product innovation and development. We have a two-product-a-year launch cycle, which requires that the customer journey is embedded from the get-go – every product has to be designed according to what the customer wants.”
The results, says Williams, have been incredible. From an engagement perspective, the platform has met expectations and has allowed for the company to really deliver journeys and experiences that are relevant and targeted.
“If you get it right, this is an amazing tool. And our engagement levels are at 80% throughout the platform,” she concludes.