The significance of CX for brands
by Terena Chetty. What exactly is Customer Experience and what significance does it hold for businesses?
by Terena Chetty. The term “Customer Experience” or “CX” is a phrase heard more and more often these days, especially when it comes to brand strategy. But what exactly is Customer Experience and what significance does it hold for businesses?
What is customer experience?
Customer Experience (or CX) relates to a client’s perception of a brand built as a result of various interactions with the brand throughout their customer journey. CX focuses largely on the role of emotional factors (such as brand affinity and positive sentiment) on customer behaviour. The CX approach was developed as a response to changing market trends. Purchasing decisions based on customer experience have increased substantially, replacing other primary considerations (such as price and quality). Spurred on by research that further indicated “overall enjoyment of experience” as the definitive factor driving consumer decisions, more and more companies are embracing this approach.
Statistics show that positive perceptions are largely based on how customer-centric a brand is. Consumer demands that need to be met include convenience, responsiveness, personalised communication, value-rich content and relevant messaging. As CX encompasses the entire customer journey, these expectations need to be met at every touchpoint. These touchpoints include marketing communication, interaction with in-store staff or sales agents, after-sales support and online brand presence. From a marketing perspective, user-generated content (based on consumers’ experiences) has been shown to generate 6.9 times the engagement of brand-generated content.
Basically, this means that consumers are interested in the experiences that other consumers have had with a particular brand, and that this influences their perceptions and ultimately, their purchasing behaviour. For Business-To-Business (B2B) based organisations, CX plays an even more crucial role as creating and nurturing customer relationships is essential to securing business contracts. Even if you are the best at what you do, your position can easily be usurped by a competitor who offers potential clients a better overall customer experience.
CX success in Africa
Wits University lecturer Sid Cohn, a pioneer in the field of customer experience in the African business market, sums up such interactions as “Moments of Truth”. He explains that these various exchanges are pivotal points contributing to consumer perception and their eventual purchase decisions. African brands are realising this to an increasing extent, and the use of CX-based strategies is rising rapidly across the continent:
- DHL’s vice president of customer service for sub-Saharan Africa, Fatima Sullivan, recognises the importance and benefits offered by the CX-approach, expressing: “We strongly promote and advocate having an insanely customer-centric culture at DHL Express – this means that the want and need to delight a customer is at the very core of each of our employee’s DNA. Ensuring that the voice of the customer resonates throughout the organisation is essential to great service quality.”
- An assessment of South African businesses done by solutions specialist, Consulta, shows that CX strategies positively impact business results across multiple industries. As explained by CEO, Professor Andre’ Schreuder, “The common thread between the best performing brands through every measure has been a clear focus on consistent delivery and Customer Experience. Doing so correlates with positive revenue growth – even in a distressed economy.”
- Nigerian-based Balogun Market revolutionised customer experience through technology-based innovation. Market owners recognised that the city’s high temperatures made for an uncomfortable customer experience. A shopping app was an option, but not ideal as marketplace transactions typically included bargaining. Instead, the Lagos-based market launched a custom-built app that allows for buyer/seller interaction, such as price negotiation. Locals can now avoid the inconvenience of travel and inclement weather, yet still enjoy a “marketplace” shopping experience.
Global 2020 Customer Experience statistics show that despite the disruptions and uncertainty of the recent months, CX remains on a consistent upswing in terms of influencing customer purchasing decisions. Research shows CX to be the leading factor when it comes to brand loyalty, as well as other impressive statistics such as:
- A whopping 86% of buyers would pay more for great customer experience (additionally, research shows the more expensive the item is, the more they were willing to pay).
- 49% of buyers make on-the-spot impulse purchase due to receiving more a personalised customer service experience.
- 62% of brands are now investing to meet the changing needs of customers.
- 88% of companies now prioritise CX principles in the customer contact centres.
- By the end of 2020, CX will replace price and product as the leading key brand differentiator.
Transitioning to a CX-approach
Transitioning to CX-based model need not be daunting or costly. It’s all about adopting client-focused strategies. Consider the following as a starting point:
- Simple changes such as encouraging inter-department communication assist in improving brand consistency, key message alignment and service delivery.
- Social and digital media are extremely well suited for client-centric activities, especially when used as primary marketing and customer service platforms. Digital service offer capabilities such as responsiveness, agility, personalisation and data-based reporting for enhanced customer service.
- Research, in the form of perception audits that focus specifically on the markets and customer segments relevant to your business, will provide you with credible data on the wants, needs, preferences and priorities of your target market. This is important as many brands try to use a one-size-fits-all method, however, what works for one country or audience segment may not work at all for another. Doing in-depth audits will help you find a way to connect effectively with each key market sector, taking guesswork and assumptions out of the equation.
It’s evident that customer experience is a definitive factor when it comes to customer purchasing decisions in both B2C and B2B markets. The more customer-centric a brand is, the higher the success potential for growth and longevity. The clear conclusion is that adopting a CX-approach is not only necessary for organisational growth, but vital for business survival in the current competitive market landscape. My advice to kickstart your CX-driven brand strategy and catapult your customer service to the next level: start now, aim high and exceed expectations.
Terena Chetty is a Brand and Content Strategist working with both local and global brands in the corporate and consumer spheres, currently as part of the Africa Communications Media Group (ACG) team.
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