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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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Vodacom cuts cost of smallest bundle by 40%

The country’s largest mobile operator has kept to a promise made last month to slash the price of entry-level data packages

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Vodacom has cut the data price of its lowest-cost bundle by 40%, reducing the price of a 50MB 30-day bundle from R20 to to R12. This follows from the operator’s promise in March, when it announced a 33% cut in the cost of 1GB bundles, to reduce prices of all smaller bundles by up to 40%.

Vodacom’s various 30-day data bundle prices will be cut across all of its channels, with the new pricing as follows:

30-day bundle size New Price Reduction
50MB R12 40%
150MB R29 33%
325MB R55 33%
500MB R79 21%
1GB R99 34%
3GB R229 23%
5GB R349 14%
10GB R469 22%
20GB R699 31%

Vodacom confirmed it will provide free data to access essential services through Vodacom’s zero-rated platform ConnectU with immediate effect. The value of these initiatives, it says, is R2.7-billion over the next year.

“Vodacom can play a critical role in supporting society during this challenging time and we’re committed to doing whatever we can to help customers stay connected,” says Jorge Mendes, Chief Officer of Vodacom’s Consumer Business Unit. “Since we started our pricing transformation strategy three years ago, our customers have benefitted from significant reductions in data prices and the cost of voice calls. Over the same period, we invested over R26 billion in infrastructure and new technologies, so our customers enjoy wider 2G, 3G and 4G coverage and vastly increased data speeds.”

The latest data reductions will complement the discounted bundle offers that will also be made available to prepaid customers in more than 2,000 less affluent suburbs and villages around the country. For qualifying communities to access further discounted voice and data deals, they need to click on the scrolling ConnectU banner on the platform via connectu.vodacom.co.za

ConnectU – which is a zero-rated platform – also went live this week. It will provide content aimed at social development and offers a variety of essential services for free. Learners and students enrolled in schools and universities can access relevant information for free, with no data costs. The ConnectU portal includes a search engine linked to open sources such as Wikipedia and Wiktionary as well as free access to job portals; free educational content on the e-School platform; free health and wellness information and free access to Facebook Flex, the low data alternative to Facebook that enables customers to stay socially connected.

Vodacom’s popular Just4You platform has been a significant contributor to the approximately 50% reduction in effective data prices over the past two years. Substantial cuts in out-of-bundle tariffs and the introduction of hourly, daily and weekly bundles with much lower effective prices have also driven increased value and affordability, resulting in R2-billion in savings for customers in 2019.

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OneBlade shaves price of electric precision

Electric razors and their blades are usually quite expensive. But the Philips OneBlade shaves the cost, writes SEAN BACHER

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Electric razors come in all shapes and forms and their prices vary as well. When your nearest electronic retail outlet opens again, you will be able to pay a small fortune for a wet and dry razor that cleans itself, shows you when it needs to be recharged, and tells you to replace the cleaning solution – all via a little LCD panel in the handle.

But does everyone want that? Does everyone need that? Surely there must be customers who want an easy-to-use, no-mess, no-fuss razor that gets the job done just as well as a “smart razor”?

With this in mind, Philips has launched its OneBlade wet and dry electric razor. The razor is dead simple to use. It comes with three stubble combs – 1mm, 3mm and 5 mm –  which can be clicked onto the head much like one would with a hair shaver. Should you want a really close shave, simply the combs off. I found this to be the most effective as I don’t have a beard.

The razor’s blade is the size of the striking side of a matchbox and has 90-degree angles all round. This offers precise shaving and, because of its small size, it is able to get just about anywhere on a person’s face.

The blade has a usage indicator that shows when it is time to replace the blade – usually after four months – and an additional blade is included in the box.

The OneBlade’s battery takes up to eight hours to charge, and will give up to 45 minutes shaving time.

Overall, the Philips OneBlade will give a man a comfortable and precise shave. Its battery life, combined with its size, makes it a perfect travel companion as it is no bigger than an electric toothbrush. Its relatively low price compared to other electric razors also counts in its favour.

The One Blade can be bought from most electronic retailers or can be ordered online from websites like takealot.com. The razor retails for R650 and a set of two new blades will cost around R450.

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