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SA lags on customer experience maturity 
By Tracy Burrows, ITWeb contributor
Johannesburg, 26 Jul 2013

Customer experience (CX) is now a competitive weapon, and delivering sterling CX requires collaboration and maturity across all levels of the organisation. The contact centre is just a part of the overall customer experience.

This was according to customer experience and contact centre experts addressing the second annual Interactive Intelligence Executive Forum, in Bryanston, this month.

But while local companies may believe in the value of customer experience, they are lagging the world on CX maturity, said Nathalie Schooling, founder and MD of N’Lighten, and Prof Adré Schreuder, head of Consulta Research.

Both experts said South African business on the whole was just above the first tier on a six-level maturity scale.

Schooling elaborated on the scale, saying it ranged from the initial stage – ‘ignore’, to explore, mobilise, operationalise, align, and finally – embed, where CX is a culture throughout the organisation. “South Africa is behind the rest of the world and in general, in the earlier stages,” she said.

Prof Schreuder agreed, saying that in SA, around 33% of companies were on level 1, which he described as ‘unconvinced but interested’, with only around 3% having achieved level 6, described as ‘engaged and sustained’.

Schooling noted that customers generally call the contact centre when there is a problem, but that CX encompasses the entire engagement with the company. “Customer experience is not solely the responsibility of the frontline staff, it is not based on CRM or technology, and it is not a project with an end,” she said. “CX is about engaging with the customer on a personal level. It’s about their experience of the whole process. The experience must meet their needs, be easy, and be enjoyable,” she said.

Schooling outlined the top six global trends in CX today:
* People engagement – motivating and equipping staff to deliver CX excellence
* Innovation – the act of doing even small things in new ways to improve CX
* Mobile apps – to connect with customers on a more personal level
* Omni-channel – unified and integrated CX delivering consistency across channels
* Metrics – focusing on what is necessary and relevant to improving CX
* Journey mapping – a powerful tool to understand CX from the outside

Deon Scheepers, strategic consultant at Interactive Intelligence, outlined the findings of recent research carried out by Interactive Intelligence, both internationally and locally.

He said the findings indicate that customer experience has a clear impact on a company’s bottom line.

Among other things, the research found that customers still predominantly prefer voice conversations when interacting with companies, and that their biggest contact centre frustrations included agents not having relevant information available to assist them, being transferred multiple times and having to repeat information at different points of the interaction.

“Very few SA contact centres have a full view of all customer information,” Scheepers said. He said improved contact centre workforce management and equipping contact centre agents with all the relevant information about the customer and this interaction with the company would significantly improve the customer experience when dealing with the contact centre. This could contribute to overall CX and the company’s bottom line, he said.

Click here to view the gallery
Nathalie Schooling
Founder and Managing Director, N’lighten
Prof. Adré Schreuder
CEO of Consulta Research and recognised expert in the field of customer experience management
Dr Ric Kosiba
VP Bay Bridge Solutions, Interactive Intelligence
André le Roux
Managing Director for the African Region at Interactive Intelligence
Deon Scheepers
Deon Scheepers
Strategic Consultant – EMEA
Fokion Natsis
Interactive Intelligence Head of Sales - Africa


About our speakers
View picture gallery - Cape Town
View picture gallery - Johannesburg
View the post-event video


Interactive Intelligence Group Inc . (Nasdaq: ININ) is a global provider of contact center automation, unified communications, and business process automation software and services. The company’s unified IP business communications solutions, which can be deployed on-premise or via the cloud, are ideal for industries such as financial services, insurance, outsourcers, collections, and utilities.

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Omni-channel the next customer frontierOmni-channel the next customer frontier
8 Jul 2013 -  The focus is now on delivering fully integrated touch points and interaction, says N'Lighten.