The experience that organisations and companies give their customers is essential in building a loyal customer base. Customer experiences shape the perceptions customers have about brands, which influences their buying behaviour.
Therefore, the Department of Marketing Management in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of Pretoria (UP) has recently established the Chair in Customer Experience Management – occupied by Professor Adré Schreuder. The Chair, which is the first of its kind in Africa, aims to bring South Africa and Africa on par with the international trend of moving towards an experience-centric business practice.
The digital world and ever-changing technologies and innovations have made it easier for people to consume and experience brands at a click of a button. Given the widened access to brands and the fast-paced digital world, understanding the role of customer experience (CX) in brand-building is key. This influences the performance of the brand and its competitiveness in the market in relation to other brands.
According to Prof Schreuder, a subject matter thought leader in CX management and measurement with more than 20 years’ experience in the field, CX has become increasingly important in determining customer satisfaction and contributing to the value proposition of organisations.
“Over and above the importance of customer experience, it is also now becoming an increasingly pressing concern that customer satisfaction and general levels of customer loyalty are not dramatically better than before. We have seen that in some cases and industries there is evidence of stagnation and decline,” he says.
Prof Schreuder encourages the UP community to join the world in celebrating International Customer Experience Day on 4 October. CX Day is annually celebrated on the first Tuesday in October to illuminate the importance of CX and to celebrate organisations and customers that are engaged in creating positive customer experience.
Now in its tenth year, CX Day is pioneered by the Customer Experience Professionals Association. The theme for this year is ‘CX Drives Success’, which seeks to shine the spotlight on how customer experience strategy can add value for consumers, employees, organisations, and the world.
Today, consumers have more power and choice due to access to social media and various digital platforms where they can share their consumer experience feedback easily and widely. This calls for organisations to be more experience-centric, because the buying of products and services is strongly influenced by customer expectations, emotions experienced and memories retained from previous buying engagements.
Prof Schreuder notes that organisations’ investment in experience management can yield valuable returns for organisations.
“Customer experience programmes can deliver the promised return on investment (ROI). These programmes are the missing link to ensure significantly improved efficiency and performance outcomes of customer experience management.”
The Chair in Experience Management will undertake inter- and transdisciplinary research, integrating various disciplines to understand the customer experience process from a perceptual, cognitive and behavioural perspective, and to develop human capital through undergraduate and postgraduate studies to increase knowledge in the field.
The new Chair envisions being a thought leader in cross-field collaboration with related and developing fields in artificial intelligence, machine learning, behavioural science, neuroscience, consumer psychology, perceptual science, user experience and user interface (UX/UI), and human-centred design, contributing to the experience economy.