One month on from Africa’s largest and longest-standing customer experience management conference, I wanted to reflect on key takeaways from the event. The conference is an important inflection point for the CX industry and profession. The event serves as an opportunity to reconnect with colleagues, share ideas and take stock of how customer-centric principles are (or are not) taking root in the broader business environment.
My top takeaways are:
1. The CX profession has vastly matured in SA
CEM has grown leaps and bounds since it launched 6 years ago. There were over 650 delegates at this year’s event from across the continent. It was such a pleasure to be in the presence of so many customer experience management professionals. The energy and enthusiasm were palpable.
2. Customer experience management teams need to focus on demonstrating business value
CXPA CEO Diane Magers opened up the conference with a thought-provoking keynote speech on how CX teams need to speak the language of the CFO, or risk being side-lined as a cost center. This is not news to many CX professionals. But as customer experience management becomes a more mainstream business practice, we need to push the envelope with conversations around business value.
3. Culture eats strategy for breakfast
Customer-centric culture change is top of mind and a major challenge, since it must be led from the top. CX practitioners are fairly unanimous in their assessment of organizational culture as a key driver for CX success. Getting buy-in (and action) from the top is a tough task. Linking back to takeaway #2, this is where things can become especially tricky in terms of quantifying business value. This may be one of the reasons it was highlighted as a challenge by so many conference participants.
4. Metrics are still hotly debated
I led a panel discussion on the practical application of insights, and it was clear that while there is some convergence of thought on managing data across silos, creating customer journey feedback loops, etc., there is still much lively debate around *which* metrics are the best. (If you ever want to get CX professionals really riled up, as them for their opinion on NPS!)
5. Emotion fuels customer satisfaction and brand affinity
Mike Joubert spoke at length about the power of storytelling, memory and emotion. The story of a compelling brand promise and the memory of a good (or bad!) experience will stay with a consumer long after the interaction is over. It’s up to brands to make these count. Much of the conversation around customer experience management is still focused on the science and strategy behind CX. We mustn’t forget that at it’s core customer experience is about facilitating mutually beneficial connections between brands and consumers. On the consumer side, emotion is a key component.
Julia Ahlfeldt is one of South Africa’s leading experts on customer experience management. She is an active member of the CXPA and is often a keynot speaker at industry events. If you have an upcoming event and are looking for a CX expert to weigh in, or seeking assistance with internal stakeholder engagement, click here to learn more about Julia’s event speaking and customized workshop services.