SA retail 'squandering' sales growth - client experience expert

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Local business leaders could be losing out on significant bottom line gains for not paying attention to customer service.

At a time that the economy is struggling, companies could be sacrificing as much as a 30% increase in sales, according to statistical analysis conducted by client experience specialist company nlighten.

"We are so consumed currently by bad news about the economy and politics, and so many companies pay lip service to customer service, with too little real action," comments nlighten CEO Nathalie Schooling. "And that could be costing them untold millions for large organisations and hundreds of thousands for smaller companies."

She says statistical, long-term research the company concluded showed a clear correlation between consistently high levels of customer satisfaction and sales, which could be up to 30% higher.

"At a time that the economy is limping along, this would make a considerable difference to any business of any size," says Schooling.

She points out that this growth is the result of increased market share, which would be gained at the expense of competitors unable to match a great customer experience.

"It really is about the leadership taking client experience seriously," Schooling says. “Customer experience is the new gold for businesses that are serious about differentiation."

One of the challenges that companies face as they scale to suit demand – is the ability to still improve the client's experience.  

She says the key to winning the customer experience battle is to devise a strategy that seeks to understand clients and become more perceptive about what they want.

This knowledge then needs to be shared across the entire organisation so that everyone is aware of what needs to be done to attract and retain business.

In her view, it should come as no surprise that the larger, more established organisations struggle to change their mindset because of factors such as internal politics and a silo mentality.

By contrast, smaller and newer companies have shown they understand the need to focus on that experience.

"It's important, however, for companies to recognise what this means for their business. For some companies they compete on price or location, and they should rather focus on that. It doesn’t pay to say you’re focused on the customer and then to not live up to that promise," concludes Schooling.

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