Craig Hannabus
Craig Hannabus

Digital CX & the role of WOM

by Craig Hannabus. While customer experience does play a large role, there are so many other factors to consider in customer loyalty.

by Craig Hannabus. If you’ve been following trends, you’ll know that CX has become a concept that gets thrown around a lot. Customer experience is undoubtedly important, with a poor experience being the make or break of any etailer’s success. Developing a great CX is a lot of hard work. The customer’s profile must be interrogated, user journeys are built, and websites and advertising are created and adjusted accordingly. Everything needs to be designed to fit into a tight ecosystem that keeps the customer engaged.

However, there is something far more powerful. Independent research over the last few years has demonstrated that South Africans put recommendations from friends and family over any other kind of recommendation. If your friend recommends an etailer, you’re more likely to go to the site and make a purchase, even if the site isn’t great. While customer experience does play a large role, there are so many other factors to consider. An absolutely broken user journey can be absolved by just one helpful sales representative. “The website sucks, but if you send an email, they’re incredibly helpful,” can be all a potential customer needs to hear.

In a country ranked 82nd for convenience in doing business, is a good website experience enough? If you’re sitting in a situation where your site doesn’t have a great user experience or your overall digital customer experience is lacking, how are you mitigating that?

Control the conversation

In most of the dev projects I’ve worked on, the customer feedback loop is often overlooked, de-prioritised in favour of content dissemination and reasons to believe. While most etail solutions come with rate and review functionality built-in, there is usually no definitive strategy to encourage people to leave reviews of their experience of products and services. When there is no feedback loop provided, South Africans turn to third-party sites like Hellopeter to vent. The worst is when the customer remains silent about their negative experience on digital platforms. You can be certain they’re talking about their experience somewhere and it’s likely going to be with friends and family.

Shine in at least one space

To change a poor customer experience isn’t something you can do overnight. As I’ve mentioned at the start of the article, it’s a long road. Determining what’s wrong is only a small part of the journey. What should be done is look at what the long hanging fruit is and then work towards making that an absolutely excellent experience. In the example I cited above, additional training for a call centre operative is far more cost effective than a website overhaul. Optimising a process is far easier than re-thinking an entire user journey. If your customer has just one positive thing to talk about, you’re in a good space.

Don’t stop there

Changing the way a customer perceives your business takes a long time, and it really should begin at customer touchpoints. I was workshopping with a representative from a large multinational corporation a few weeks ago. When I asked for a peek into their customer data, she told me there wasn’t any. I nearly fell off my chair. Your customer is the reason you exist, customer data is the key to unlocking more profit. With that in mind, collecting customer data is a good place – no, the only place to start your journey to a better customer experience. It’ll help determine your roadmap, it’ll tell you where your low hanging fruit is, and it’ll be useful for a long time after you’ve perfected the experience.

There are always clear goals when it comes to business. If one of your goals isn’t, “get my customer to tell his/her friends and family about how great my product/customer service is”, you’re going to spend a lot of money on marketing, with very little ROI.


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Craig Hannabus is strategy director at Rogerwilco. He has spent 11 years in the digital marketing industry. During his career, he’s gained exposure as a community manager, content writer, developer, and UX strategist, before embracing a new role in business strategy. He has worked on blue-chip brands, including Standard Bank, Nedbank, General Motors, Nestle, Reckitt Benckiser and Caxton, etc.


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