Compared to the international average, South Africans score low on loyalty. Fewer than two thirds of South Africans are loyal to the brands and companies they support and will leave mainly due to cost, impolite, rude or uninterested staff or when they have to make too much effort to get what they need.
Only 57% of South Africans are loyal to the institutions they use, lower than the 61% average among nine countries that were part of research commissioned by Verint Systems, a New York-based analytics company that sells software and hardware products for security, surveillance, and business intelligence.
Loyalty is highest in France, with a score of 72%. South Africa is only seventh on the list of nine countries researched after France, Germany (66%), New Zealand (63%), the Netherlands (62%), Poland (60%) and the US (60%), with only Australians (56%) and customers in the UK (51%) less loyal than South Africans.
When consumers in South Africa do leave, 24% cite cost as the reason. Another 18% will move to a different service provider if staff were impolite, rude or uninterested and the third most important factor that causes South African consumers to move, is when they have to make too much effort to get what they need (13%).
South African adults felt that companies who are able to deal with their request quickly (55%) made them stand out above others. The person they spoke to being able to make decisions without their manager (42%) and understanding their issue and history (37%) were also things that made a company better. Apps (24%) and incentives or rewards (28%) were considered less important.
”It’s a tough market out there,” says Cédric Demeulenaere, Verint’s MD for South Africa, Africa and Southern Europe. “The digital revolution has unsettled the once firm foundations of customer service. To remain competitive and secure customer loyalty, businesses must re-evaluate their strategies for better anticipating the needs of ever more demanding customers.  In short, they need to rethink service in terms of customer experience and loyalty, rather than from the point of view of reactive post-sales support.
”Organisations everywhere are striving to deliver the highest quality of customer care and this is often a key differentiator. Yet customer satisfaction levels in many sectors remain stubbornly low, churn worryingly high. To better understand consumers’ expectations of brands and what keeps them loyal as this decade enters its second half, we recently launched a study in partnership with analyst firm Ovum, based on a poll of more than 18,000 respondents across nine countries.
”Its key finding was that when it comes to providing a service that stands out from the competition in the eyes of consumers, speed and convenience are paramount. A significant 81% of respondents ‘just want their questions answered’ and nearly one third think experiences are more positive when companies understand their account history,” Demeulenaere says. “It also shows that 29% prefer it when the person they speak to is able to make decisions without checking with their manager.
”For many, the pace of change may become overwhelming, so it’s important to carve out a robust strategy now to keep your head above water. Convenience, personalisation and speed are crucial to customers and can make a difference between retaining and losing them. Understanding the market and solutions available to help you on this journey is crucial,” he adds. “But with the right technology and customer insight, organisations can face the future better prepared and with more engaged customer to hit the loyalty jackpot. Whilst our lives are becoming more digitally-focused and complex, consumers are still demanding that brands simply get the basics right.”