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Legacy tech, cost of service, get in way of SA businesses

New research shows that despite a determined drive towards improving customer experience, half of all companies across EMEA, continue to be challenged by the rising cost of customer acquisition and the impact of bad debt.

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New research shows that despite a determined drive towards improving customer experience, increasing trust and satisfaction, half of all companies across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), continue to be challenged by the rising cost of customer acquisition, cost-to-serve, retention and the impact of bad debt.  However, the increased cost to serve customers is an area of concern as more than half of the South African businesses surveyed admit to this. 

At the same time, four out of five CEOs readily acknowledge just how important data, analytics and AI also are to their growth. Over the coming year, these areas will be the focus of investments to enable faster, more reliable and better-informed decisions.

Like their EMEA counterparts, legacy technology in South Africa (31%) and the inability to deliver consistent decisions across multiple channels pose an ongoing struggle.  More than one in four EMEA decision-makers (28%) admit they are unsure they can consistently offer friction-free experiences for new customers, while a similar number (26%) simply don’t believe they’re making the most of advanced analytics. In South Africa, 48% (EMEA: 42%) believe advanced analytics are effective for harnessing insights.

These findings emerged from a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Experian. It includes findings from more than 700 senior decision-makers from across Europe, Africa and the Middle East (EMEA). Experian uses data and insights to help some of the world’s largest companies deliver better customer experiences, such as helping customers to get better credit offers, while addressing persisting business challenges such as fraud and improved customer experience. 

It also emerged in the study that in and amongst the determined drive towards improving customer experience, 86% of SA customers trust how businesses are using their data to better serve them. However, CEOs admit that the cost to serve customers are increasing. One area involves verifying customers’ identities with 75% of South African businesses admitting to this (EMEA: 62%). As such, 76% of SA businesses (EMEA: 60%) plan to reduce the cost to service customers in the coming year.

Additionally, South African businesses identified increased exposure to fraud (34%) and new competitors coming into the space (33%) as their biggest challenges.

David Coleman, Chief Data Officer at Experian South Africa said: “It’s clear these are exciting and challenging times of balancing risk and innovation while addressing the higher business costs. Our survey shows that South African businesses currently rely on AI and machine learning for fraud prevention and risk management. However, they are looking to use these tools for developing new products and customer acquisition targeting in the next three years. This show how important these technologies will be in the years to come to make key decisions that will drive their business into the future. 

Despite the higher costs to serve customers, any business leaders realise that their growth is now reliant on agility and the ability to move at the speed of their market – or even faster. Success is dependent on a combination of scale, innovation, spotting and adapting to new opportunities as soon as they emerge, and it is positive that they are willing to invest in these

Across EMEA, Experian Ascend Analytics on Demand has now been launched, enabling businesses of all sizes to build their own predictive models and make the very best decisions. It applies machine learning and AI techniques to anonymised credit, client and alternative data, creating rich, comprehensive market views. Thanks to Ascend’s analytical tools, layers of content can be readily mined to gain deep insights about business and consumers. Results are delivered within a matter of seconds, via flexible self-service tools and powerful visualisations that drive fast, smart and well-informed decisions.

Innovation, smart data and the drive to customer-centricity is the third annual Experian-commissioned report conducted by Forrester Consulting. It covers three key themes around the universal drive to digital, SME servicing and customer management. Inside it contains a mass of insight into critical investment plans for EMEA boardrooms, as well as taking a deep-dive into emerging trends, vital priorities and front-of-mind challenges for hundreds of CEOs.

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TikTok looks for SA talent

The fast-rising short-video platform has launched a #PickMe campaign to discover local stars.

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TikTok, which claims to be the world’s leading destination for short-form videos, launches its first PickMe campaign, an effort to discover creative talents and provide a stage to express themselves in South Africa. Starting March 1, TikTok kicked off a month-long search through participants’ 15-second videos under hashtag #PickMe.

TikTok says it is committed to investing in South Africa and discovering the local talents. The PickMe campaign is supported by its local partners like Huawei, MTV Base and Digify Africa.

Local stars, including comedian and singer Lasizwe and singer Nadia Jaftha, have joined the campaign and called for users to show their talents on TikTok.

There are 5 categories of video shooting in the campaign, namely dance, acting, comedy, singing and cosmetics. Participants need to shoot a 15-second video using TikTok using #PickMe and tag @tiktok_africa to participate in the challenge. The finalists will be selected based on their video performance. The most popular and talented participants will have the chance to win prizes like Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphones, a day at MTV Base, and a once-off-presenter opportunity and attendance at an intensive video production workshop delivered by Digify Africa.

“TikTok has definitely evolved into something that everyone loves and uses. It’s given creators a space to create more unique content and also help the creator gain a whole new kind of fan base, ” says Preven Reddy, Imbewu The Seed TV-star and Megazone radio host who is also a TikTok user.

Says TikTok video creator Mihlali Nxanga: “As a young South African working towards being in the entertainment industry, TikTok has given me the platform to grow my following tremendously. Within 6 months, my fan base has grown by a whopping 90 000, and not only from South Africa, but the whole world. For me, TikTok is not just a content platform, it is a global community.”

The campaign will wrap up on March 31. The list of the finalist will be announced in the app and on official Instagram @tiktok_southafrica. For more information, please visit the TikTok app.

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Rugby fan experience transformed by digital platform

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The South African Rugby Federation has embraced digitalisation as a key enabler of its strategic aspirations. It has worked with Accenture to transform fan engagement for Springbok supporters with the launch of a digital fan platform.

“Digital technology and social media have transformed how modern fans watch, support and engage with their favourite teams,” says SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux. “To maintain our relevance amid this new market dynamic, and grow our fan base, we’ve acknowledged the vital need to digitally transform our organisation.”

Wayne Hull, managing director for Accenture Digital in Africa, says: “SA Rugby’s ambition to pivot to a more fan-centric strategy requires digital design, content, platforms and insights because modern consumers, including loyal Springbok supporters, engage predominantly via mobile digital channels and expect hyper-personalised experiences.”

Accenture Digital’s development process started with quantitative and qualitative research, which informed the user experience (UX) design guidelines and content strategy for the digital fan engagement platform.

“To know what fans want, we needed to understand the fans themselves,” says Hull. “The Accenture Digital team mined the research data and identified multiple fan ‘personas’, which all have different content consumption, platform functionality and engagement preferences.”

The platform development team focused on three critical elements to meet these requirements – the customer experience (CX), the engagement engine and cloud-based deployment.

“To deliver a memorable and engaging CX, Accenture Digital leveraged leading digital experience software,” says Hull. “The result is a fully integrated and responsive platform that creates seamless, personalised digital fan experiences across SA Rugby’s content, commerce and digital marketing initiatives in a manner that makes fans feel recognised and connected to the players and the game.”

The new platform will serve as the first point of call for any rugby fan who wants to get their data fix with exclusive statistics, analytics and insights. The platform’s content style will include more visual elements – videos and images – with more concise articles that are easier to digest, in accordance with evolving content consumption preferences on mobile screens. This will complement long-form thought leadership and insight pieces. 

In addition, fans will enjoy exclusive access to player-related content, such as behind-the-scenes footage and game and training performance stats. SA Rugby will also benefit from the ability to track comments and mentions via the Sitecore analytics platform Accenture Digital implemented, to respond and engage in the conversations Springbok fans are having on social media about the game, the teams or the players.

To do this, SA Rugby required a consolidated view of the customer. However, data resided in disparate sites across ticketing providers and SA Rugby’s e-commerce and online magazine databases. This information will be consolidated into the CRM system, with multiple integration points available to leverage this data.

The CRM system’s functionality will help to reveal insights such as fan communication preferences and their likes and dislikes, which will place hyper-relevance at the core of SA Rugby’s fan experience and engagement strategy.

 The final element in the platform development was cloud deployment, which allows fans to access the platform from any device that has an internet connection. The platform is hosted within the Microsoft Azure environment, which is stable, secure and fully redundant. It gives SA Rugby the flexibility to manage the platform themselves, with the option to integrate or scale additional functionality down the line.

Based on the outcome, Hull believes that Accenture Digital has successfully reimagined, built and delivered a world-class, modern and mobile-friendly digital fan platform that creates a fun, immersive and engaging experience for fans.

“It’s a major step towards helping SA Rugby realise its ambition to become a fan-centric, forward-looking and nimble organisation, and we look forward to building and developing the platform further with the team as their digital fan engagement requirements evolve,” says Hull

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