Picture: UNSPLASH/DAVID DVORACEK
Picture: UNSPLASH/DAVID DVORACEK

In an unpredictable and rapidly changing world, consumers are increasingly needing and expecting to access products and services seamlessly and consistently through different channels and touchpoints.

The question of how organisations are tackling this complex demand was the subject of the most recent FutureProof event with Dimension Data, in association with Business Day.

In the banking industry, just as in other industries, the added challenge to this demand is the need to anticipate consumers’ evolving behaviour and how the economic factors shaping the world are affecting consumers.

Retail banks, in particular, are very cognisant of the need to adapt their operating structures, adopt new workforce models and align technology in a highly accelerated manner.

Ciko Thomas, Nedbank's group managing executive for retail and business banking noted that the pandemic has prompted and helped the bank accelerate improvements and innovation in the business in general and customer experience in particular.

Technological advances have been one of the biggest enablers of convenience  both for the bank’s customers and employees. He went on to explain that technology is at the heart of everything they do. Nedbank recently announced it was introducing a hybrid workforce model which will see a portion of sta­ff working from the office or branch, a portion who will work remotely and another cohort who will follow a blended approach.

Another innovation from Nedbank has been the introduction of the QR Code cash withdrawal feature onATMs. This feature was developed in response to customers wanting to be safe from possible Covid-19 surface infection. It  allows a customer to capture a QR code on the ATM screen and have money dispensed without having to physically touch the ATM.

According to the NTT 2020 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report, customer experience is a key strategic and growth driver for modern businesses. The report comprises responses from 1,020 respondents across 13 industry sectors, and is drawn from 79 countries in the Americas, Asia Pacific, Australia and New Zealand, Europe, and the Middle East & Africa.

The past year has elevated customer experience and highlighted the necessity of it for business
Nompumelelo Mokou, Dimension Data MEA MD for Southern Africa

However, while customers expect a hyper-personalised and eff­ortless experience from their service providers, poor strategic execution is thwarting progress. Though the majority of organisations polled in the study recognised customer experience as a clear di­fferentiator, there is still much work required in this area with organisations needing to follow through on sentiment and ensure that customer experiences strategies are clearly formulated, managed and delivered.

The pandemic has accelerated the implementation of digital transformation strategies for most organisations with many of them looking towards the Cloud as an enabler.

Nompumelelo Mokou, Dimension Data MEA MD for Southern Africa, pointed out the extent to which technology has become pervasive throughout all our lives. Accompanying this technology is the need for a resilient and modern digital infrastructure.

According to Mokou, the past year has elevated customer experience and highlighted the necessity of it for business. The businesses that kept customer experience at their core during the pandemic managed to retain consumers whereas those who didn’t had a decrease in retention.

To deliver business value through a hybrid customer experience — one that combines the online experience with a traditional bricks and mortar experience — requires finding the technology enablers, explained Ringo Naidoo, practice and solutions head for Dimension Data MEA.

The head of customer experience at African Bank, Eloise Boezak, said that the pandemic has revealed that no organisation is ever truly prepared when it comes to digital readiness. The pandemic has completely changed the way the bank connects with customers and supports its teams.

Digital readiness, she said, needs to consider the entire ecosystem and consider both those customers who are digitally savvy as well as those who still desire human interaction. African Bank has prioritised o­ffering customers a seamless experience irrespective of the channel they wish to interact through.

She explained how the wellbeing of consumers and sta­ff is vital to business and the need to build di­fferent models of connection to mitigate the loss people have experienced or are experiencing.

The 2020 NTT Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report is available for download at www.dimensiondata.com.

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