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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.

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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