Deon ScheepersDeon Scheepers

Customer service and contact centres are only components of overall customer experience, according to experts at the Interactive Intelligence Optimise the Customer Experience Executive Forum.

Customer Experience (CX) is now a competitive weapon, and delivering sterling CX requires collaboration and maturity across all levels of the organisation. The contact centre is just a part of the overall customer experience.

This was according to customer experience and contact centre experts addressing the second annual Interactive Intelligence Executive Forum, in Bryanston, this month.

But while local companies may believe in the value of customer experience, South African companies are lagging the world on CX maturity, said Nathalie Schooling, founder and MD of N’Lighten, and professor Adré Schreuder, head of Consulta Research.

Both experts said South African business on the whole was just above the first tier on a six-level maturity scale.

Schooling elaborated on the scale, saying it ranged from the initial stage – ‘ignore’ – to ‘explore’, ‘mobilise’, ‘operationalise’, ‘align’, and finally, ‘embed’, where CX is a culture throughout the organisation. “South Africa is behind the rest of the world, and in general, in the earlier stages,” she said.

Prof. Schreuder agreed, saying that, in SA, around 33% of companies were on level one, which he described as ‘unconvinced but interested’, with only around 3% having achieved level six, described as ‘engaged and sustained’.

“Achieving CX maturity does not happen overnight,” he said. “It could take three to six years for a company to get to level six.”


, strategic consultant at Interactive Intelligence, outlined the findings of recent research carried out by Interactive Intelligence both internationally and locally.

Andre Le RouxAndre Le Roux

He said the findings indicate that CX has a clear impact on a company’s bottom line.

Among other findings, the research found that customers still predominantly prefer voice conversations when interacting with companies, and that their biggest contact centre frustrations included agents not having relevant information available to assist them; being transferred multiple times; and having to repeat information at different points of the interaction.

“Very few South African contact centres have a full view of all customer information,” Scheepers said. He added that improved contact centre workforce management, and equipping contact centre agents with all the relevant information about the customer and his or her interaction with the company, would signifi cantly improve the customer experience when dealing with the contact centre. This could contribute to overall CX and the company’s bottom line, he concluded.