Statistical analysis conducted by nlighten reveals that South African business leaders could be losing out on significant bottom-line gains for not paying attention to customer service. At a time that the economy is struggling, companies could be sacrificing as much as a 30 per cent increase in sales.
“We are so consumed currently by bad news about the economy and politics, and so many companies pay lip service to customer service, with too little real action,” Nathalie Schooling, nlighten CEO says. “And that could be costing them untold millions for large organisations and hundreds of thousands for smaller companies.”
“Statistical, long-term research that we concluded showed a clear correlation between consistently high levels of customer satisfaction and sales, which could be up to 30 per cent higher. At a time that the economy is limping along, this would make a considerable difference to any business of any size.”
Schooling points out that this growth is the result of increased market share, which would be gained at the expense of competitors unable to match a great customer experience.
nlighten conducted its research using proprietary predictive modelling that tracks customer satisfaction scores and sales over at least two years. This model has shown that consistent client satisfaction scores of at least 70 per cent does appear to improve sales.
“It really is about the leadership taking client experience seriously,” Schooling says. “Customer experience is the new gold for businesses that are serious about differentiation. From the outside I can see why some of our clients and others are successful, and it’s because their leaders are putting their money and effort where their mouths are.”
She says this is evident in the success of some of the fastest growing companies in South Africa, like Capitec, and online retailer Yuppiechef. While an airline like Safair do their utmost to be consistently on time, giving their customers the peace of mind that their time will not be wasted.
One of the challenges that companies face as they scale to suit demand – is the ability to still improve the client’s experience. A great example of this is an nlighten client that has been recognised globally as a destination of choice is the Cape Town International Conference Centre. Schooling says CTICC has doubled its footprint and capability in the past 12 months and has recorded even higher customer ratings from clients and conference organisers. This is because the CTICC leadership team is completely focused and driven to deliver consistently great experiences and they are continually innovating and improving.
She says the key to winning the customer experience battle is to devise a strategy that seeks to understand clients and become more perceptive about what they want. This knowledge then needs to be shared across the entire organisation so that everyone is aware of what needs to be done to attract and retain business.
It should come as no surprise that the larger, more established organisations struggle to change their mindset because of factors such as internal politics and a silo mentality. These internal wrangling’s inevitably get in the way of creating a great customer experience.
By contrast, smaller and newer companies have shown they understand the need to focus on that experience.
“We’re about five years behind in terms of client experience evolution,” Schooling says. “We might be the laggards, but the good news is that we can learn from Europe and the US. We’re getting there slowly, and customer experience is gaining traction as awareness grows.
“It’s important, however, for companies to recognise what this means for their business. For some companies they compete on price or location, and they should rather focus on that. It doesn’t pay to say you’re focused on the customer and then to not live up to that promise.”