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There’s a sombre tone accompanying the latest sets of financial results from most retailers in South Africa. The size of consumers’ wallets is certainly smaller – and shrinking – in many segments, there’s less discretionary spend across the board, and many people are postponing, or outright crossing off the list, the purchase of anything more than necessities.

But there’s another story to tell, one which questions and challenges the retailers themselves about how much money they’re losing out on, due to poor customer service and delivery. Money that customers WANT to spend, but can’t, because of inefficiency in the supply chain, lack of training and empowerment of frontline staff in stores, and seeming inability to serve the real needs of customers.

Enter centre stage, with a big spotlight, the Chief Customer Experience Office (aka, the CXO). A role that is being recognized as an increasingly strategic function and an imperative part of the leadership teams of all forward-thinking organizations who sell goods to consumers, through a range of channels.

These companies are realizing, firstly, that these days consumers have a lot more power than they’ve ever had before, and secondly, that they need to figure out how to service, engage and earn the loyalty of their customers, if they are to compete for and win their customers’ hard-earned cash.

The trend, though, seems to have the CXOs focussing their attention on the use of data, analytics, algorithms and the like to gain insights that can be used to ‘engage and deliver hyper-personalized service and value’. Desirable, for sure. But how about FIRST using data and analytics to deliver the basics, so that when customers have their wallets open to buy, then can actually part with the moola?

I wonder if there’s a way to measure how much revenue is lost, just because the basics are not covered?

Like making sure that there’s sufficient stock in stores. Like having a sensible delivery system then allows you to purchase an item from the store where you’re at, and take it home with you, instead of compelling you to use the home-delivery service at an extra (exorbitant and unnecessary) cost! Like ensuring that when items are not in stock for an online grocery delivery, that these are sourced from another store and delivered. Like being able to offer intra-store transfers and home deliveries within 24 hours.

Not complicated. Not particularly demanding of the tech capacity and systems that companies already have. Just basic process efficiencies. So that at the point of sale, goods can be bought and paid for.

So, CXO’s, there may be some quick wins to save the day. Yes, there’s power in the data, but don’t forget to analyse the basics of day to day, real life, customer service.

I’d be a delighted, happy customer if I could receive the box of grapes that I ordered online. I’m so willing to pay for it, but only if it gets delivered.

– Debbie Goodman-Bhyat
CEO

Debbie Goodman-Bhyat

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