The inaugural International Customer Experience Awards is taking place this November 20 in the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam.

The gala event will reward the world’s most customer-centric businesses and organisations, that will be judged by an expert panel of key global CX industry figures.

Among these judges are the 2018 International Customer Experience Awards Ambassadors, each representing his or her country at what will be the planet’s biggest ever celebration of CX. In this ongoing series, CXM World is publishing exclusive interviews with – and opinion articles from – the Ambassadors, as the event draws near.

Ambassador: Chantel Botha

Country: South Africa

Occupation: Director of CX at BrandLove Customer Experience

Hi Chantel, tell us a little about your professional background, and what drew you towards the concept of Customer Experience

I was educated as a computer scientist and mathematician. Somewhere in my 25-year career, I found art and magic and that let me to management consulting which I always combined with an obsession over customer focused innovation. Today, I get to practice science, art and magic every day in my consulting and learning practice, BrandLove.

I believe all people deserve great experiences and to collect memories that make them happy. Most brands struggle to engineer this in a sustainable way. They also miss the opportunity to unlock human potential and happiness in employees.

You’re a judge and Ambassador at the ICXAs – what themes do you hope to see in this year’s presentations?

I wish to see how brands have given all employees an opportunity to participate in experience design and innovation. The unlocking of emotions and ways in which employees can bring all emotions to work is important, as is really embedding Brand DNA – what we in BrandLove have coined Experience Essence – into every interaction a brand has with a customer.

There are many interesting ways to cultivate compassion in employees, and I want to see that, along with how organisations develop and inspire the future generations of customer-centric leaders.

What aspects of Customer Experience are popular among businesses/organisations in your region?

Most organisations in South Africa focus and get fixated on Voice of the Customer measurement. Most companies I interact with have a data problem – the fact that they have year’s worth of data, but the data is not translated into action easily. 

There is also a challenge around organisational structure and where CX should report to, and still a struggle to legitimise the work of CX professionals. I advise my clients to focus on delivering real value in their teams, creating skills and experience so a larger group of people can design experiences at scale across channels. If the purpose is clear and the benefits are proven, the discussion shifts from defensive to desired. 

Customer Experience efforts challenge us in finding new ways to collaborate and to communicate and to engage at a different level to before. It demands from us to become obsessed with the customer and more important the human DNA and feelings internal to every customer and every employee.

I think these observations are not unique to South Africa, in my recent travels to the USA and the UK, my fellow CCXPs expressed very similar trends.

What areas of CX could be improved in South Africa?

Oh, service in general lacks the hygiene factors, and even when it meets the basics, it is bland and leaves no impression. This creates a fantastic opportunity for brands to stand out from the crowd since the bar in my opinion is still fairly low.

Most brands still suffer from a historic marketing campaign mentality, where they implement new experiences in a campaign style, that ages and eventually wears off. My desire is for more kindness from service ambassadors and from customers. I really believe the whole country can just benefit from being a little bit kinder, even when things go wrong.

What does the future hold in terms of CX? Can you offer any predictions, based on your experience, for the coming years?

I think we are in for a treat! I think the fixation that most organisations have on robotics and automation and the naive introduction of chatbots and AI without the necessary experience design will create a great tension between the brands that design and the brands that leave the experiences to happen haphazard.

This in my opinion will create a great evolution of the brands that really care and the ones that don’t. I am excited and intrigued by the next wave of innovation in the experience revolution!

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