#10Q: Building brand trust is key for 2021

In this changed world of ours, organisations which fail to adopt a customer-centric approach risk lagging competitors, says Rynhardt Uys, CEO, Immersion Group.

In this changed world of ours, organisations which fail to adopt a customer-centric approach risk lagging behind competitors which have already become customer-obsessed, says Reynhardt Uys, chief experience officer, Immersion Group, a global team of experience design experts. Uys says the COVID-19 pandemic has birthed a renewed need for brand trust as consumers experienced firsthand which companies could provide evidence of their legitimate concern for customers and which let them down.

Reynhardt Uys.
1. What will this year bring in customer experience?

It has become very clear that trust goes way beyond just the idea of a brand and is now much more focused on showing and not simply telling. The reality is that the pandemic will continue to impact customer experience in 2021, if not more so, based on the desire for an increased sense of trust. This will be coupled with consumers wanting more in-person experiences – but only from brands they trust.

2. Please unpack the trust-based consumer experience.

Forrester, in a recent survey, found that trust in business was low, but the drive for more in-person contact was growing. This places greater pressure on organisations to ensure that they focus on developing a trust-based customer experience (CX). Having a robust understanding of the customer will become a fundamental business requirement – here is a vital need to deeply understand who your customers are and what drives them. A genuine care for the customer has to be evident as services go beyond functionality and consistency, to form an emotional connection with customers.

3. Why will retail feature strongly in CX?

Locally, good CX journeys are starting to feature more prominently in sectors such as financial services, telecommunications and often within the general ICT market. An explosion of CX campaigns is expected in the retail sector; while the medical profession has started to realise the benefits of a technology-driven CX approach. The timeframes are not the same which means that sectors are all at different stages of CX adoption. The speed at which each market reacts also differs but the macro-trend of increased CX remains bilateral.

4. How do you craft the ultimate customer experience?

Creating a memorable customer experience is fast becoming a top priority for businesses – and for good reason. Customers no longer base their loyalty on price or product alone. Instead, they stay and spend, with companies based on the overall experience they receive.

5. It is important to fully understand the challenge before investing.

Of critical importance is first cultivating a good understanding of the business goals and objectives. A common error many organisations make is not investing the time and effort required to truly understand the customer. How do you become the best milkshake in the country without knowing what flavour and recipe your customers want and prefer? And how do you serve your customers through a platform you don’t yet know they’ll be comfortable using or a method of payment they feel safe completing?

6. What are the common mistakes to avoid?

While research shows 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience, there are several common mistakes that can derail efforts at personalisation and the customer journey. Developing an unmatched customer experience involves applying the most appropriate methodologies and expertise in the right areas of focus. From customer research data teams to marketing and operations, user experience design and development teams, just to name a few.

7. How do you ensure your customers come back?

Aside from relying solely on tech solutions to fill organisational gaps and solve customer pain points, businesses tend to place too much emphasis on customer acquisition strategies and journeys and very little focus on the servicing side. The only way to ensure customers are left with a positive experience they want to repeat again and again is to build a considered and complete end-to-end experience solution, instead of single journeys in isolation.

8. What are the tools that can assist organisations?

Differentiating your brand will also come from a smarter use of technology such as artificial intelligence. Businesses need to consider what technologies and processes will enable them to better understand the customer, but also, what of these tools will make the journey easier for customers? It will also be important for employees to know what technologies will help them interact better. Of course, measuring the impact of the programmes implemented is vital, making analytics and other CX software important to capture feedback in an ongoing and meaningful way.

9. What are some of the trends ahead?

While a global trend of ‘zero UI’ continues building within connected homes, South Africa is not close yet. With much more pressing issues to address, establishing connected homes remains cost prohibitive, aside from being infrastructurally difficult. The telco sector will play a leading role in the adoption of connected homes, and if they move to develop these people may start to engage. Research in the United States tells us that 16% of Americans own a smart speaker, while 4% own a Google home product. This tells us that smart home functionality is on the rise and in the minds of a large proportion of the population. South Africa is a long way from this scenario, but we have no doubt that one day this will become our reality too.

10. What do organisations need to be aware of going into this uncertain year?

The world is changing, so are customers. Needs are evolving; customers are more demanding;  challenges are increasing; and what might have differentiated organisations in the past, may not be what differentiates them in the future.


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