The world’s most valuable brands, such as Coca-Cola, Google, McDonalds and Apple, all have one thing in common – they recognise the crucial role of providing a consistent customer experience. 
As a result, South African businesses are being urged to follow suit and measure customer experience, as well as utilise the data to improve operating efficiencies, grow market share and drive innovation, among other key business strategies.
Marius Rezelman, Director at PSP Icon, a leading national management consultancy, says in the current volatile economic environment and with corporate risk on the rise, senior executives need to elevate customer satisfaction to a position of commercial imperative in order to remain competitive.
“However, they first need to implement a system that can effectively measure customer experiences and then know what to do with the data collected, in order for it to make a real difference to the company’s bottom line,” says Rezelman.
Of the 90% of global organisations that collect customer feedback, less than 10% are able to successfully translate this back to improved customer retention and ultimately spend, according to research conducted by Syngro – international developer of Voice of Customer (VOC) programmes.
Keith Schorah, CEO at SynGro, says customers not only expect their voice to be heard but for companies to act on their feedback, to make changes which are simply more than lip service.
“Irrespective of their market, customers expect their experience to be improved and those organisations who do more than just listen are lauded by customers and investors.”
Schorah explains that the complexity and breadth of measures as a result of increasing computerisation can often make it more difficult rather than easier for managers to handle customer experience feedback.
“It is important to select and implement a comprehensive customer experience system that can listen to the customer feedback; connect the data back to the relevant source or company department; interpret the data to identify correlations or patterns; and ultimately improve customer experience by delivering consistent innovation.”
The importance of customer experience, customer statistical analysis and the latest consumer trends in South Africa are some of the topics that will be explored at the International Customer Experience World (ICEW) SA 2013 conference being held in Johannesburg on the 12 to 13 March 2013 at the Maslow Hotel in Johannesburg.
Guest speakers include Peter Cheales of and South African brand expert Andy Rice with additional speakers from major local and international brands such as FNB, Sun International, Nokia and Telefonica.
“Branding is not simply something that is done to consumers – it is the consumers who place a perceived meaning on a brand. The management of the customer experience has a significant impact on these perceptions and it is time local business leaders recognise the benefits of utilising this data to their advantage,” concludes Rezelman.