No more ex­cuses

Ser­vice de­liv­ery and cus­tomer needs should be­come fo­cal points

Finweek English Edition - - Focus on the orange index -

THE SOUTH AFRICAN con­sumer has evolved from an in­ex­pe­ri­enced con­sumer with lit­tle or no ex­pec­ta­tions 10 years ago, to a de­mand­ing cus­tomer to­day who not only ex­pects good ser­vice, but is shop­ping around for ser­vice de­light. This is the con­clu­sion drawn from the re­sults of re­search com­pany Ask Afrika’s an­nual Orange In­dex, which takes a closer look at cus­tomer needs and sat­is­fac­tion and mea­sures cus­tomer de­light as op­posed to merely meet­ing cus­tomer ex­pec­ta­tions.

“The ser­vice ex­pec­ta­tions of SA con­sumers have def­i­nitely in­creased, which means ser­vice de­liv­ery has be­come im­per­a­tive when it comes to gain­ing and re­tain­ing cus­tomers,” says Ask Afrika CEO An­drea Rade­meyer. “And when it comes to such ser­vice, the Orange In­dex found Re­spon­sive­ness, Em­pa­thy, As­sur­ance and Re­li­a­bil­ity to be the key driv­ers of cus­tomer de­light.”

The Orange In­dex found the Food Re­tail sec­tor in South Africa to of­fer the high­est lev­els of cus­tomer de­light, fol­lowed by the Petro­chem­i­cal sec­tor, Fast Foods, Cloth­ing Re­tail and fi­nally the Bank­ing sec­tor.

Th­ese re­sults are in stark con­trast to the pre­vi­ous Orange In­dex’s re­sults, which found the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions sec­tor in top po­si­tion in terms of cus­tomer de­light fol­lowed by bank­ing, long-term in­sur­ance, short-term in­sur­ance and fi­nally the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try.

Rade­meyer be­lieves this un­be­liev­able shift can be at­trib­uted to more as­tute and more de­mand­ing con­sumers. “The past few years have seen SA con­sumers spoilt for choice, so that to­day’s con­sumer is more so­phis­ti­cated in terms of ser­vice ex­pec­ta­tions due to a greater variety of choice and threat­ened mo­nop­o­lies,” she ex­plains. “Pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged peo­ple have also taken up their share in the con­sumer world, which has not only opened the mar­ket for com­peti­tors but has also threat­ened mo­nop­o­lies and forced them to up their game. Ser­vice de­liv­ery and cus­tomer

Ser­vice ex­pec­ta­tions of SA con­sumers have def­i­nitely in­creased which means ser­vice de­liv­ery has be­come im­per­a­tive when it comes to gain­ing and

re­tain­ing cus­tomers.

needs should be­come fo­cal points for all in the in­dus­try. Glob­ally the fo­cus is also on ser­vice de­liv­ery. The in­creased com­pe­ti­tion has placed new em­pha­sis on cus­tomer re­ten­tion while con­sumers have be­come more value con­scious.”

There­fore, with the mid­dle mar­ket hav­ing en­joyed pre­vi­ously un­known ac­cess to goods and ser­vices such as cel­lu­lar ser­vices and mo­tor ve­hi­cles, the com­pa­nies of­fer­ing th­ese goods and ser­vices ex­pe­ri­enced a boom and sky-high cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion re­sults. Con­sumers were just thrilled by the ex­pe­ri­ence it­self.

The mar­ket to­day, how­ever, has moved from ac­cess to choice, says Rade­meyer, and there are no more ex­cuses for bad ser­vice.

Hav­ing said that, the Orange In­dex has found that the ris­ing lev­els of de­light and sat­is­fac­tion are in­deed start­ing to plateau. “The in­creas­ing plethora of choice, cou­pled with chang­ing tech­nol­ogy and gen­er­a­tion con­sid­er­a­tions, all point to­wards a plateau in cus­tomer de­light,” says Rade­meyer. “Qual­ity ser­vice is be­com­ing a hy­giene fac­tor and de­light a dif­fi­cult task. As ex­pec­ta­tions are ex­ceeded, the bar is raised again. De­light­ing the cus­tomer will there­fore be­come an in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult task in the fore­see­able fu­ture.”

Rade­meyer be­lieves South Africa will face a ser­vice stale­mate if ser­vice strate­gies do not be­come cus­tomer-cen­tric. “The South African con­sumer is de­mand­ing more value add. The mar­ket lead­ers of yes­ter­day have un­for­tu­nately fallen be­hind and have not kept up with th­ese trends and con­sumer

de­mands. Banks and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies, for ex­am­ple, spent mil­lions of rand on in­fra­struc­ture and call cen­tres 10 years ago but no money was spent on the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence. Pep and those lead­ing the in­dus­try to­day spent their money on the ex­pe­ri­ence and they’re reap­ing the ben­e­fits. Price still re­mains a con­sid­er­a­tion but is no longer a strong driver of the mar­ket.”

Rade­meyer also be­lieves loy­alty is an out­dated con­cept. Or­gan­i­sa­tions should rather look at cus­tomer in­ten­tion in terms of re­ten­tion rather than loy­alty. Whether a cus­tomer in­tends stay­ing with the or­gan­i­sa­tion is a much bet­ter in­di­ca­tor, she says. Loy­alty is now and gives a false sense of se­cu­rity while in­ten­tion is more long term and leaves more scope for build­ing re­la­tion­ships.

Look­ing ahead, Rade­meyer be­lieves there’s def­i­nitely a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity. “With Gov­ern­ment en­cour­ag­ing con­sumers to save more, there may be less spend­ing, which means you are only go­ing to re­tain ex­ist­ing clients and gain new ones through your ser­vice rather than your prod­uct of­fer­ing.”

FOOD RETAILAIL LEAD­ING THE WAY

Source: Ask Afrika

To­day’s con­sumer

is more so­phis­ti­cated

in terms of ser­vice ex­pec­ta­tions.

An­drea Rade­meyer

SOUTH AFRICAN CUS­TOMERS’ SER­VICE NEEDS

Source: Ask Afrika

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