#NEXT2022: Customer expectations are rising

by Louise Burgers. The playbook for creating a customer experience culture within your organisation.

by Louise Burgers. Customer expectations across the globe are rising. Your customers now expect personalised interactions regardless of channel and a great customer experience every time. This insight comes from Celika Caldwell, GVP, head of customer experience programmes, Oracle Advertising and CX, Oracle. She was speaking today, January 11, at Adweek Outlook 2022, a virtual event by the American publisher to help marketers and media executives prepare for our radically changed world due to Covid.

Caldwell joined Oracle in North America recently, but was part of the AARP and FedEx customer experience teams over the past 17 years. Her presentation was about what she has learned for an organisation to truly transform to become more customer focused. She warned that it takes years to create an authentic company culture focused on the customer, but that there were four key steps most organisations could implement immediately to help them on their journey.

In her introduction to her presentation, she said no one will be surprised to learn that customer expectations are rising, compared to the past, when customer service was about the basics like quality service and fair pricing. “Customers today have a much higher expectation. They expect our actions to be proactive, they expect personalised interactions, and really expect us to deliver experiences regardless of channel. This rise in customer expectation was there well before the pandemic. I believe that the pandemic did breed a sense of ingenuity and growth in multiple areas, including customer experience. We were forced, as companies and organisations, to really step up our customer experience and fully deliver delightful customer expectations.”

By way of example, Caldwell referenced something as simple as buying groceries. “Companies really had to lead that change, they had to come up with new experiences, and they had to do it quickly. Telemedicine went from something that was extremely rare; but in the pandemic it became something that was used to take care of anything online, bar a real emergency. What is interesting, is that for the most part, the technology already existed to enable all these types of experiences. There is one good thing about the pandemic: it was a catalyst for organisations to step up their game.”

Caldwell said there were two things that happened: customers demanded the same product or service, but a different experience; and companies had to react and deliver more flexible, responsive, and creative experiences. “The good news for consumers, is that this is here to stay. We raised the bar as to what acceptable experience is. There is now no willingness to want to go back to queuing for doctors or go into a grocery store with a crying baby if you have other options. The challenge is that we now have the pressure to transform, to be more customer focused, to truly make our organisations more customer-centric.”

How do we take advantage of this time, she asks? Caldwell has distilled four ways to enhance customer experience:

1. Create a shared understanding of your customer
  • Create a listening program – you have pockets of knowledge within your company. Create a shared programme all staff can give input on.
  • Proactively share customer insights with all employees – and spread out those insights so everyone can understand your customer and where they are coming from.
  • Consider creative ways to collect and distribute customer feedback and creatively get your entire company to know your customer.
2. Design and co-create with customers
  • Allow customers to clarify and confirm the experience challenge.
  • Use tools (co-creation, journey maps, etc) to design exceptional end-to-end experiences.
  • Involve your customer in problem identification and solution building.
3. Create CX metrics and accountability
  • Make sure you are measuring the right things. We manage what we measure.
  • Map out the customer journey.
  • Identify metrics that already exist or that can be collected at each phase of the journey.
  • Make the metrics matter to drive continuous improvement – look at the entire experience and integrate operational, financial, and customer experience metrics before you claim success.
4. Build this culture of customer experience

This is by far the hardest point of transforming the organisation – there is a lot that goes into that, and it is several years in the making usually, says Caldwell. What organisations can start with, is:

  • Define an authentic experience vision that aligns with your brand.
  • Everyone from the summer intern to the CEO needs to understand and reinforce the customer vision constantly.
  • Invest heavily in the employee experience – if employees don’t have the resources to deliver a great customer experience, it won’t happen. Use training, hiring, rituals, and routines to reinforce skills needed to deliver exceptional experiences.
  • Define a clear experience vision that is authentic, customer and employee-driven, and evangelised by your executive team.

“This is a playbook for what we are doing at Oracle currently,” explains Caldwell. “So, if you are looking at transforming your organisation, make sure everyone in your organisation understands what your customer is experiencing and how to help them; and how to measure your success. It takes time and effort to build a culture of CX. Every company is different, but executive buy-in is critical. If you really want to invest in CX, start with executive buy in. Customers have an idea of the role they want you to play in their lives – go and ask them,” urges Caldwell.



Build a culture of customer experience in your organisation. Customer expectations are on the rise and companies must step up their game.


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Louise Burgers is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.


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