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An annual survey conducted by market research company Ask Afrika since 2001, called the Ask Afrika Orange Index®, has ranked South Africans’ opinions about which companies are delivering the best customer service. They conduct 33 000 independent interviews and survey more than 110 companies across 22 industries. This year’s Top 20 overall winners both come from automotive brands, VW and Toyota, with the only bank on the list, Capitec, placing third.

Notably the survey was updated this year to offer insights into a customer’s emotional journey across service touch points, and that, for REAP Consulting, is a positive move in the right direction – we have to change the way we do business and think beyond the call centre.

Our business landscape is characterized, sadly, by more of the same and generally, by increasing levels of mediocrity – meaningless statements made by executives who ‘gush’ about their commitment to customer service and differentiated customer experience, with very little in terms of operations to actually support this stated intent and customer promise. Too often, nothing more than lip-service.

To move beyond this lip service, we need to adopt a  more holistic approach that recognizes the need to health check product-centric strategies and structures of the past and implement systems and processes across the entire company  to support a strategic customer focus, that is what customer centricity is all about.

To deliver a differentiated customer experience requires an ‘interconnectedness’ – a shared understanding of the business model – an alignment around strategy and leadership, people and the organisation, understanding customers, the customer information we gather and ‘big data’ we hear so much about today, customer management planning, customer propositions, channels, delivering the intended customer experience, enhancing customer value, measurement, governance, risk, competition, regulatory requirements and responsibility.

The true test for delivering business sustainability and shareholder value will come when we appreciate the need to change the way we ‘do’ business, and start measuring performance across a range of business operations, not just the call centre.

Doug Leather
Doug is a leading expert in client/customer management working globally with large blue-chip organisations.

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