Summit highlights customer experience trends

Cape Town - About 500 delegates recently attended the largest customer experience management (CEM) conference in Africa, which took place in Cape Town.

The conference highlighted key trends in the industry.

The Customer Experience Management (CEM) Africa Summit is already in its sixth year.

Terry Southam, joint managing director of Kinetic, which has been producing the summit since its inception in 2011, says “the industry is still so young, and yet in the past six years we have already seen the customer experience space evolve from a few pioneers driving change into a professional and legitimate discipline".

As a result, the event grows each year as companies ranging from small local businesses to the large international corporates invest more in understanding and sharing what customer experience (CX) can do to differentiate organisations and grow revenue and profitability.
Qaalfa Dibeehi, vice president of marketing and strategy consulting at Forrester, said investing in CX means a business can get out of the price war.

Bring emotion back

“Customer experience has three elements. Ease, effectiveness and emotion. It’s like an iceberg. Ease and effectiveness are above the water line. These are what we can see, easily measure and control," said Dibeehi.

"However, under the waterline sits how we emotionally connect with our customers and while the most difficult to achieve, is where the greatest benefits and advantages lie. Organisations need to design customer emotions at every level of the experience to grow loyalty and move beyond a price comparison buy.”

Kevin Seaman, national patient experience manager at Mediclinic, reiterated this when he shared a Dave Brock quote: Great customer service doesn’t equal great customer experience.

“Emotionally connecting with customers isn’t about what you do, it’s about how you make them feel,” he said.

Humanise the data

While the technology age has enabled more communication, it has also reduced emotional connection. The challenge for CX professionals is to continually see customers as human beings rather than mere data points. A thought-provoking question was posed by customer experience specialist, Ian Golding,

"When was the last time your company's leadership spent time with your customers?" he asked.
CX is everybody’s business

A repeating theme was that customer experience was something the whole business needs to be fully committed to and engaged in.

While some spoke of employee engagement, Chantel Botha of BrandLove prefers to talk about the employee experience.

"By creating alignment in how employees experience the business with how we want customers to experience the brand or service, then we have something powerful. My job is to connect the passion and purpose that lives insides each person to the business they work for," said Botha.

"When this happens commitment and high performance are inevitable because everyone wants to be there and wants to do their best."

Kinetic have already started planning the 2018 CEM Summit which takes place in August next year.

“We are going to build on the success of this Summit and Awards and bring more insight, more examples of excellence and more opportunities to connect with other CX professionals across Africa,” concluded Southam.

CXA Awards

The inaugural CXA Awards hosted by Kinetic, took place during the summit.

The awards recognised brands that are constantly exceeding expectations and truly leading the way in customer experience.

MultiChoice won four of the six categories.

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