Connect with us

Performance & Growth

You Want My Business? Show Me the Love

Customer-centricity isn’t a nice to have – it’s a must have (and sadly ignored).

Alex de Coning

Published

on

Show-Me-The-Love

One thing that irks me no end is a marketer bandying buzzwords about for no other reason than trying to sound like the smartest person in the room. You have to appreciate the claptrap – making up new words will probably instill the ‘fear of not knowing’ in your audience and, if delivered with enough chutzpah, you may very well seem like the shining beacon that can help an organisation navigate the rocky shoals of customer acquisition.

However, this is not a post that begrudges these kind of marketing tactics, but one that aims to constructively criticise the bastardisation of some of these concepts in the hopes of getting things back on track.

Bastardised buzzwords

A buzzword that has been doing the rounds in the past few years, especially with the advent of ‘new’ media, is ‘customer-centricity’. Initially an ideal, more executives have cottoned on to the term, and in the aim of boosting the bottom-line, have managed to completely illegitimise its initial intentions.

Customer-centricity is not a buzzword, it’s a culture that every part of your organisation has to embrace. Ask yourself: is a CEO’s focus area on the customer or on the KPIs of the business? I understand that as the most senior employee with a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders and the board, keeping an eye on KPIs is essential, but how do you call your business customer-centric if it’s not the CEO’s main responsibility? Nay, priority! The CEO has to ensure that his or her subordinates across the entire business have one specific goal – to satisfy the customer.

Going the extra mile

Here’s a story to explain my meaning: Last year, I attended the TM Forum’s Africa Summit and listened to speakers from across the globe. A talk by chief commercial officer of Kenya Data Networks, Atul Chatervedi, stuck; he recounted a story about an Aiwa outlet in Japan. It was in the late 90s, and his wife sent him on his business trip with clear instructions, “I want a discman.”

Mr Chaturvedi entered the store in downtown Kyoto, bought his wife’s Discman and returned to his hotel. Later that evening, the phone in his room rang – it was the manager of the Aiwa outlet on the line. According to Chaturvedi, the unit he purchased was a demo unit, and Aiwa wanted to swop it out for a new one – the manager called to find out what would be a good time for him to bring the replacement unit.

Now here is what I mean when I say that customer-centricity is a culture, and not just the hollow promise that every second brand would have you believe: The procurement department noticed that the demo unit was not where it should be and asked the sales staff where it could have gone.

The sales staff explained that it had been sold. Considered substandard, the sales department contacted the finance department to find out if they have details for Chaturvedi. Finance contacted HSBC and after the appropriate security protocols were met, Aiwa got the number for Chaturvedi’s wife in India.

They contacted the wife and got the details for the hotel he was staying at, and the manager showed up with the replacement unit, a box of chocolates and a note profusely apologising for the inconvenience caused. As you can imagine, other than spoiling a potential surprise, Aiwa had caused absolutely no inconvenience. Instead, they made a fan for life.

Customers for life

Consumers do not identify with a brand as much as they identify with the product or the service that the brand provides. Having a superior product can’t be considered the only strategic differentiator anymore.

But it seems that so few businesses are really focused on customer acquisitions as opposed to customer retentions, that it’s a rare joy to hear a story about vehicle brand X that collected a customer that broke down on the side of the highway in the rain and gave them a replacement vehicle for the week while their new car is being repaired free of charge.

Sure, I’d be pretty bleak if my new car gave up the ghost within the first few weeks, but I’d always support the brand that treated me with so much reverence. In fact, I’d support the brand that treated my family and friends like that (and my family and friends would do the same).

And there it is: 94% of consumers trust word of mouth, 14% trust advertising. What makes this statistic ridiculous is the amount of marketing budget organisations feel the need to spend when the same budgets could be spent on retentions rather than acquisitions.

A happy customer is an ambassador for your brand – it’s built into us, this sense of community. Take it back to caveman (sorry, caveperson) days. You’d probably get a grunt and a smack from a fellow cavedweller if you tried chomping on some poisonous berries.

Today, if a friend says (s)he’s going to buy a Parker pen, or a Maxwell Williams tea set, or Pirelli tyres, if I have a story to share on why that’s a good/bad idea, you bet I’m going to chime in to save my friend from a potential terrible decision, or reinforce a good one. Think about your own life, what’s more effective, one story from a friend or 12 TV ads, 4 billboards, 3 radio spots and a double page spread in the Sunday Times?

Get everyone involved

So, how customer-centric is your business? If you answered, “We have a Customer Service Department,” then congratulations, you’ve ticked the box for the minimum requirement. Sardonic commentary aside, customer satisfaction is not the responsibility of the Customer Service Department – it’s the responsibility of the top to set the goals and ideals (or mission, vision and values) and inspiring the bottom to follow suit.

Before I ask you all to hold hands and join me for a chorus of Michael Jackson’s Heal the World I think it’s fair to say that Chaturvedi’s story has me despondent – it makes me wish for a perfect world where every provider had that kind of tact when dealing with customers and that more organisations were focused on people instead of the bottom-line. But I suppose you can’t appreciate a sunny day without a few rainy days. 

Alex de Coning started his career in public relations at Baird’s Renaissance in 2001. He left Baird’s to join the team at Cerebra, a strategic integrated communication agency during the course of 2011. He enjoys writing and received a Pixel at the 2012 Bookmark awards for the editorial he created and disseminated for the launch of G-Connect In-Flight Wi-Fi.

Advertisement
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Voicy

    Feb 15, 2013 at 16:57

    Alex de Coning is also sexiness personified. His writing style, general knowledge and passion for the subject matter stands testament to this. Or maybe it’s just the beard.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Company Posts

How TomTom Telematics Can Keep Your Business Moving Forward

Successful businesses need to find ways to improve their margins while still delivering excellent and efficient customer service. VDM’s CEO, Deon van der Merwe, explains why this wouldn’t be possible in his business without TomTom Telematics’ solutions.

TomTom Telematics

Published

on

TomTom telematics

When TomTom Telematics entered the South African market in 2010, the local team took a deep dive into the different industry verticals they were servicing.

The more they got to know their customers, the more they realised a different solution was needed to address local conditions, and a subscription model was introduced whereby customers didn’t need to invest a large capital outlay into TomTom Telematics’ technology, but would receive the tech and software, including installation, at no extra cost, in exchange for a monthly subscription fee.

This model gives SMEs affordable access to TomTom Telematics’ solutions, but it’s had another benefit as well: As TomTom Telematics introduces new innovations, existing customers can benefit — without the costs associated with replacing all of their existing technology themselves.

An indispensable tool

For a transport and logistics business like VDM Group, which has more than 160 vehicles on the road, this means they have access to incredible new offerings, without needing to replace their TomTom units themselves.

“TomTom plays a critical role in our business,” says Deon van der Merwe, CEO of VDM Group. “It’s an indispensable tool in ensuring quality customer feedback and the management of KPIs for all supply chain stakeholders.

“Earlier this year, TomTom Telematics launched their New WEBFLEET product. We were very satisfied with what we had, and yet they still approached us and offered to replace all our existing units with new tablets, and they’re covering the installation costs,” explains Deon.

Related: Driving Your Business Growth Towards More Customers

“New WEBFLEET is the result of TomTom innovating their product based on customer feedback from around the world, and the local team wanted to ensure we had access to the additional functionality and innovations that had been introduced.”

Seamless integration with your network

According to Deon, the new TomTom PRO 8275 units seamlessly integrate VDM’s fleet scheduling software with information they extract from TomTom, including individual vehicles’ standing time and arrival notifications.

“The software from TomTom is open API, which means that all our various applications can communicate and interact with each other,” he explains. “From a productivity perspective, we no longer need to manually capture any trip information.

In addition, we have every conceivable piece of data available that will assist us to run a leaner, more cost-effective fleet, enabling us to ensure that we are delivering on all our KPIs — particularly with regards to meeting our customers’ needs.”

Related: Changing The Shape Of What’s Possible

VDM is a large transport business, but Deon believes the benefits for SMEs are as great, if not more so. “Many SMEs don’t have the back-office support that we do. The ability to capture and use this information without a team of admin specialists at your disposal is a huge competitive advantage for smaller businesses,” he says.

Offering you the competitive edge

VDM offers a specialised logistics service that creates custom-made options for clients. In order to ensure the most optimal and cost-effective solutions, while still ensuring top quality delivery, they need to consider special and complex individual customer requirements, from the point of origin to the point of destination, before finalising a customer-specific solution.

“We take into account a host of factors, including inventory carrying costs, volume requirements, product specific factors and route to market,” explains Deon.

“Road transport significantly impacts total supply chain costs, and if not managed properly, can have a severe impact on the sustainability of any particular channel. We try and manage this risk by continuously improving our service through innovative logistical solutions, the use of advanced technology, vertical integration and a team of passionate and talented experts.

TomTom assists in creating differentiators

“This focus has helped us to develop a market offering that includes dedicated and completely flexible inter-modal solutions, which is a big differentiator for us. TomTom Telematics plays a key role in our total productivity, helping us measure the performance of road transport across our supply chain.”

Deon believes that what you don’t measure you won’t know.

“TomTom provides updated fleet statistics that allow us to constantly benchmark our fleet against pre-defined route surveys and, in so doing, enables massive savings in fuel and total turnaround time.

Communicating via the WEBFLEET platform also helps us save time and creates a formal trail of correspondence with our drivers. I don’t believe it’s possible to successfully run a business like ours without a solution like this.”

Continue Reading

Company Posts

Sasfin Continues To Support SME Growth

Sasfin’s equity stake in fintech lender Payabill set to enhance SME growth.

Sasfin

Published

on

By

sasfin-business-growth

In another major step forward in supporting growth in SMEs, Sasfin today announced that it has acquired a strategic stake in fast-growing fintech lender Payabill.

Payabill, a 100% digital lending business, provides working capital and/or trade finance to small businesses. The collaboration between Sasfin and Payabill accelerates financing opportunities for customers.

Sasfin, South Africa’s leading business challenger bank, last year successfully launched its digital platform, B\\YOND, for SMEs.

“Sasfin has been investing in fintechs, building digital capabilities (such as B\\YOND) and working with third parties (such as XERO Accounting) for a number of years with the aim of adding value to our business and wealth clients. Payabill has made huge strides in giving businesses access to digital finance and we are thrilled to announce this investment,” says Sasfin CEO Michael Sassoon.

Payabill CEO Eli Michal launched the pioneering fintech start up in SA in 2017. Payabill settles suppliers directly for its clients and allows clients to select their own extended payment terms. “We are incredibly excited by the opportunity afforded to Payabill by having Sasfin as an equity and debt partner. Sasfin will provide access to new channels and much needed funding that enables us to support the growth of small business finance in South Africa,” says Michal.

Michal started the fintech as he “wanted to enhance access to finance for small businesses in South Africa. We all know that boosting small business creates jobs and enables growth. Traditional lenders have neglected this segment of the market due to the high costs associated with on-boarding and assessing these customers, as well as managing their credit risk. It made no sense to us that a retail consumer could get multiple forms of credit, almost instantly via electronic channels, but small businesses could not. They were being neglected. With this in mind, we set out to build a completely paperless, digital solution to address this market’s unique requirements.”

Currently, Payabill offers loans of up to R150 000 to businesses. The intention is that with the investment made by Sasfin, Payabill will be able to offer larger loans to SMEs in the near future.

The alignment of Payabill’s aims and Sasfin’s long-term focus on small business in SA made for an ideal partnership. “SMEs can now borrow digitally, via Payabill, and bank via B\\YOND from Sasfin – reducing admin and costs which often stifles small business growth. Both B\\YOND and Payabill are gaining meaningful traction in the SME market and there are a host of additional digital initiatives that we are working on to further help small businesses thrive,” says Sassoon.

“While Sasfin has always offered a trade and debtor finance solution, this was largely for more established businesses. The new offering speaks to smaller businesses that are passionate about growth, and our larger Trade and Debtor Finance offering will be there to support businesses that reach the next phase in their development,” says Sassoon.


Sasfin Holdings Limited (“Sasfin” or “the Group” or “the Company”) is a bank-controlling company listed in the “Financials: Investment Services” sector of the JSE Limited (“the JSE”).  Sasfin and its subsidiaries provide a wide range of complementary banking, financial and related services.

Continue Reading

Company Posts

Driving Your Business Growth Towards More Customers

Designed to help its customers get the most from their businesses through the right telematics solution, New WEBFLEET can help you reach your customers quicker, get more done, improve efficiencies, save costs and boost your revenues.

TomTom Telematics

Published

on

business-fleet-management

Europe’s highly regulated operating environment has made telematics ubiquitous in business. On the one hand, this means industries across the spectrum have become safer, more efficient and highly productive across the EU. On the other, it’s much harder to stand out from the crowd when everyone follows the same best practice standards.

“We don’t have those same stringent regulations in place,” says Justin Manson, Sales Director, Africa at TomTom Telematics. “Our clients have realised what a huge competitive advantage this actually offers them though.

“Locally, everyone understands the role that telematics plays in tracking what your drivers are doing right and wrong, and use it as a tool for encouraging good driving practices, but there’s so much more to this solution, and we’re making it our mission to help business owners really use it to their benefit.

“When deployed across the organisation to its full capabilities, a telematics system can radically improve productivity and workflow. Done correctly, a business can save up to 10% on its bottom line, and redeploy that cash into the company’s growth, thanks to drivers reaching customers quicker and getting more done. The right data also increases productivity and ensures better turnaround times.”

Thomas Schmidt, MD of TomTom Telematics, loves visiting South Africa for this very reason. “Because so many business owners aren’t using telematics to their full extent, there’s such a huge opportunity for us to assist businesses in their growth here,” he says. “We deliver a high-value stack of products that can change the way companies operate, and most importantly help them save money and make money. The challenge for us is educating our customers so that they understand what our solutions offer, and the incredible impact they can have on a business. We consistently improve these solutions based on customer feedback as well, making them very much from customers for customers.

Related: Why Your Fleet Management Plays a Pivotal Role In Your Business

“Anyone can buy a map for less than R100. Why invest in such expensive devices? The answer is because we’ve developed solutions that change lives. With the right data — and access to that data — you increase safety, simplify your business, drive efficiencies, increase your output and customer service, and ensure you are always productive and reliable — across the organisation. And that impact can be measured, and given a real ROI value.

“Imagine the impression companies that operate at that level make on their industries. They stand out from their competitors. There is so much room for growth in South Africa as we deploy these solutions.”

Game-changing solutions

As an organisation, TomTom Telematics is focused on continuous growth and innovation as well, constantly learning from market conditions, its customers and industry needs to improve its product offerings.

The result is the launch of New WEBFLEET in February 2018. “We’ve increased the value we offer our customers,” says Thomas. “We’ve collated data from hundreds of thousands of customers around the world who gave us their feedback through surveys, and New WEBFLEET is a window into easy-to-use, smart fleet management that is a game changer for companies.”

“TomTom Telematics is in the business of helping businesses,” agrees Justin. “Our goal is help our customers master their challenges. The right data at your fingertips will help you change the way you operate. That’s our goal. How much cash is being left on the table in an organisation because of inefficiencies?”

Introducing New Webfleet

The smartest way to manage your vehicles and mobile workforce

tomtom-telematicsTomTom Telematics’ state of the art Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) fleet management solution, with best-in-class user interface, is inspired by two decades of working together with customers to achieve more for better fleet management. New WEBFLEET is everything you need to manage your vehicles in the cloud, in real time. It allows you to monitor reports and dashboards, manage orders/workflow, and improve driving behaviour, safety and service, helping you save fuel and reduce costs.

Best-in-class user interface

  • A future-proof platform with a completely renewed interface, based on the latest HTML5 technology and driven by continuous innovation.
  • Simple and clean interface, with minimised clicks for faster working.
  • Intuitive functionality, means it is more accessible for greater impact across your business.
  • User rights management and state-of-the-art data handing ensures the highest level of data privacy and data security.
  • Fast access to the right information.

Related: Fleet Tools Will Help You Get More Done In Less Time

Map view

Know where your vehicles are and where they have been. Different map options such as Google, Google Street View or satellite map are enriched with traffic information, giving you a more detailed view on what’s happening on the roads. Toggle between different types of information on the map such as traffic, addresses and areas and create specific views, so you only see the information you need.

Dashboard

New WEBFLEET’s dashboard gives an overview of performance at a glance. Up to 27 KPIs can be used to track the performance of vehicles, individuals, benchmark teams or give a simple overview. This helps you to track real-time performance against your pre-defined KPIs.

Reporting

New WEBFLEET gives you instant access to the information that matters, meaning you can spot trends over time and use real-time information to make smarter and more informed decisions. You can instantly download or schedule reports to help you stay on top of everything — from fuel efficiency and legal compliance to quality of service.

Manage on the move

New WEBFLEET is optimised so you can manage your fleet on any device by entering WEBFLEET through a web browser or by downloading the WEBFLEET Mobile app on your smartphone.

Send routes direct to drivers

  • Plan accurate routes in New WEBFLEET by adjusting multiple variables such as location, time of departure/arrival, traffic and vehicle type.
  • Get a choice of alternative routes, as well as suggested fastest route with traffic.
  • Customise your route by simply adding new waypoints, or dragging and dropping existing waypoints on a route. Then choose from guided or forced route* options.
  • Send planned routes directly to a TomTom PRO driver terminal to keep your drivers on the right track.

Related: Time Is Money And It’s Time You Saved Both When Running Your Fleet

Personalised Map views*

  • Create your own saved map view to reach information you need fast.
  • Switch between vehicle groups or areas, without needing to adjust the map filters and zoom levels. n

Personalisation

Many ways to customise WEBFLEET to suit individual requirements from personalised views to adding information to make what you see more informative on one page.

Plan a route the way you want it

Use multiple variables (including waypoints) to give fastest or most efficient routes.

Access WEBFLEET

Across different device types, allowing you to always stay on top of business.

Simple, clean and easy to administer

Toggle between views to get the right information to focus on the task in hand. Get the right information to the right people at the right time, keep data secure and in the right hands.

Send routes to driver terminals

In real time, ensure drivers follow or avoid specific routes.

Visit telematics.tomtom.com/tellmemore and follow us on Twitter @TomTomWEBFLEET

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Entrepreneur-Newsletters
*
We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.
Advertisement

Trending