South African businesses are faced with an exceedingly difficult task. They have to find ways to survive in the face of ongoing political uncertainty, fast eroding business and investor confidence, and declining consumer spend. From large retail banks to small consultancies, local businesses have to fight hard to win customers – and even more so to retain them.
Indeed, as competition intensifies amidst a slowing economy, brand loyalty is becoming a thing of the past. Today, consumers switch between brands at the slightest hint of better prices, more responsive service and higher quality outcomes. More than ever before, businesses have to stand out – they have to have a clear differentiator in order to survive (and thrive) in a tough environment.
But how do you stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace? The answer is straightforward: provide outstanding customer service.
Instead of looking to change or adjust their service or product offering, South African businesses can attract and retain customers simply by providing seamless and efficient customer service. In an environment in which quality customer service is infamously absent, this can be an almost instantaneous (and relatively easy) way for businesses to gain a critical competitive advantage.
Get your customer service right, and you will instantly stand out from the crowd…
Beyond the buzzwords
There can be no doubt that modern businesses have lost touch with the consumer and end-user. While this can be attributed to many factors (urbanisation, the loss of the ‘corner store’, retail chains, hyper-connectivity, etc) the end result is the same: businesses no longer have a personal, ‘human’ relationship with customers. They have no knowledge of who they are dealing with, what that person’s needs are, their historical relationship with the brand, etc. All intimacy and connection has been lost – the essential link has been broken.
Some companies have recognised this, and have taken steps to repair the broken link. In recent years, we have witnessed the emergence of myriad technology solutions and platforms to help businesses get it right. Arguably, however, many ‘solutions’ have been sold on the back of attractive buzzwords (cloud, virtualisation, AI, Big Data, chatbots, etc) that have seldom translated into positive and measurable outcomes for businesses.