Today the temperature is a scorching hot 35º, the kind of weather that is unbearable for most households especially those in the townships due to the quality of the housing structures. Most people are sitting outside their houses, children are playing in the streets, throwing water at each other and some residents have made their way to the beautiful beaches of Cape Town in an attempt to escape this rather unbearable heat.
I leave the office making my way to the nearest shopping centre which is about 5km away from the office. My mobile banking App has suddenly decided to stop working, when I called my bank, I was advised to visit the nearest branch in order to have the latest version of the mobile App uploaded and configured. On my way to the shopping centre I realise that I need to get a few items of food from the local retailer which is also situated in the same shopping centre. This is all taking place in small township called Guguletu which is 15km away from Cape Town, the total population size according to the last census was 98 468 residing in 29 577 households, the average size of a household is 3.33.
As soon I step into the shopping centre I am welcomed by such unbearable humidity, the almost 12 years old shopping centre does not have air conditioning in a township with a population size of just under 100k residents, the “experience divide”. I make my way to the bank, trying to catch my breath whilst wearing a mask due to COVID-19 regulations.
As soon I walked inside the bank, I receive a very warm welcome from one of the staff members dressed in a beautiful uniform, how may we help you, Mam, she asked as she offers me hand sanitiser. “I am here to sort out my mobile banking App as instructed by your call centre team”, I answered. She issues me with a ticket and directs me to a seat where I have to wait for the next available consultant. Ticket no.5 to counter 9, oh that’s me, I rush to counter 9 as instructed by the voice on the automated queuing system.
Good day Mam, how may I help you today, the consultant asks with a warm smile? Good day to you too (me smiling back), I am here to sort out an issue with my mobile banking App, I responded. Her next question, “do you have data on your mobile device so that I can assist you with loading the new mobile banking App”? Me, what??????? She responds, “in order for me to resolve the matter your mobile device must have data because we do not provide Wi-Fi to customers in-branch”.
Me, responding to her, “a week ago I visited the Claremont branch and while we waited outside in the queue one of your consultants came around offering all customers the password to the free bank Wi-Fi and you’re telling me that your branch doesn’t have Wi-Fi, how does that work? Her response, “unfortunately we do not provide Wi-Fi and have never provided Wi-Fi to customers in this branch”. Me, “I hear you but you are not hearing my question, why is it that both branches belonging under the same brand do not provide a simple offering such as Wi-Fi knowing fully that the latest version of your App requires one to have an internet connection, more so because the bank has decided to introduce a new version of its App yet does not provide the internet access to facilitate this change?” Her response, “well it’s always been like this.”
I handed my mobile device to her and watched her as she used my Wi-Fi to fix the bank’s issue. After 25 minutes in the bank, she thanks me for coming and asks if there’s anything else she can do? Me, “no, thank you” making my way out of the bank, still shocked off course.
Dismayed from this entire experience, I make my way to the retailer to purchase a few items of food. I collected a small trolley and made my way to the entrance, as soon as I get there, I asked the security whether they had those wet wipes to clean the trolley and he said no, they only provide hand sanitiser. I regularly visit the same retail store but the Claremont branch and every time you get there, you will find a trolley attendant disinfecting all the trolleys, the same trolley attendant will direct you to the self-service area where you find wet wipes to cleanse the trolley once more in addition there is a security guard at the door reminding you to wear your mask and offer each customer hand sanitiser. From the time you enter the doors, you are welcome by a very chilled air conditioner, the grocery isles allow for free movement, there are no sticky floors and you will floor supervisors across the store. In this particular branch, located in the township, the same retailer does not have air conditioning, the grocery isles are so small and short, the floors are sticky, there are no visible members of management to offer support.
Both these companies, the bank and the retailer are ranked very high on customer experience. They are leaders in their respective industries and yet the experience divide continues to widen.
The below questions come to mind:
- Has CX become a numbers game?
- Have organisations and CX professionals become so reliant on numbers and the mechanics to a point that no one ever wants to get dirt under their nails?
- Does anyone ever pay attention to the basics e.g those random store/branch visits by those trusted with the customer’s experience?
- Is everyone hiding behind scores, numbers, data, dashboards etc. whilst these are important without a doubt, when was the last time as a Head of CX, CX Manager, CX professional you left your office, desk, PC, Mac, Laptop and made a conscious decision to build a proper business case based on observation rather than numbers?
- CX has evolved over the years and continues to evolve, when was the last time new measurements were introduced in order to reflect the evolution of CX? Are we not measuring the new with the old?
- How do we continue to prove ROI when the experience divide continues to widen?
- Is CX for a few customers with lots of money or is it for every customer?
Follow me as I take you on a real CX journey, stripping the curtain open to tell real stories and looking beyond the numbers and the mechanics.
2022 is the year of embarking on a journey to uncover all the basics, my vision is a South Africa without an experience divide, real CX is not on the numbers or the fancy titles or certifications, it is in the transformation.
CEO & Founder: Unlimited Experiences SA