I well remember the time Banks in South Africa centralized the granting of credit and mothballed Bank Managers. This was aggravated with the introduction of ATM’s which, although it provided quick access to cash, further succeeded in distancing the customers from their Banks of choice. The personal relationship changed from the warmth of working with people to an experience of coldness working with machines. The fierce loyalty to Banks became history and doing business with Banks changed dramatically.

Quinton Pienaar of PwC in South Africa asks the question “Has business lost the human touch in customer experience”?

Pienaar’s  article quotes the findings of the PwC report “Experience is Everything”.

In short he sums up the report writing “Consumers are willing to pay for a customer experience that goes beyond the norm and brings together the elements of people, technology and service with a smile”.

I would add that a good customer experience does all that the article claims AND it brings back customer loyalty…. Enjoy the read.


Has business lost the human touch in customer experience?

Quinton Pienaar, PwC, South Africa


Even as technology improves and automation becomes more prevalent, most consumers globally still prefer human interaction. People engage daily with apps, self-service checkouts, websites and the like. But the minute something goes wrong they want to talk to a person.

Good customer experience leaves people feeling heard and appreciated; it minimises friction, maximises efficiency and maintains human element.

We asked consumers what it takes to deliver the kind of experience that keeps them satisfied and coming back.

  • Consumers would pay up to 16% more for better customer experience.
  • Two-thirds of customers surveyed by PwC feel companies have lost touch with the human element of the customer experience.
  • Three quarters say they want more human interaction in future, not less.

These are the findings of an international survey by PwC of 15,000 consumers.

The report, ‘Experience is Everything, finds that in an age of chatbots, digital payments, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data, companies need to work harder to strike the right customer experience (CX) balance.

Price and quality remain top of mind when consumers make purchasing decisions, but 73% of global respondents say that a positive experience is among the key drivers that influence their brand loyalties, In fact, the price premium for quality CX among consumers worldwide is up to 16 percent on products and services. Our research revealed that 65% of consumers find a positive brand experience to be more influential than great advertising.

The ‘Experience Economy’ has ushered in a new customer experience mindset, steering brands beyond emphasising products and services to selling rich consumer experiences. Our findings quantify the potential return on investment on investments in providing a quality customer experience of, upwards of 16%.

The detrimental cost of bad customer experience, and quantifiable value of the good:

The survey underlines how bad experiences drive consumers away. Of the consumers surveyed, 60% would stop doing business with a company due to unfriendly service, 46% because of employees’ lack of knowledge (46%) and half because they don’t trust the company. One in three (32%) say they would walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience.

Speed and efficiency (80%); knowledgeable and helpful employees (78%); and convenience (775) universally matter the most. These cornerstone elements are so highly valued that the majority (52%) of consumers would pay more for greater speed and efficiency; 43% would pay for greater convenience; and 41% would pay for more knowledgeable and helpful employees.

Employees critical to the experience – and spending

While the consumer generates the revenue, employees drive the experience. Seventy-one per cent of consumers think a company’s employees have a significant impact on their experience. But only 44% believe that employees understand their needs well. Consumers in Japan, the US and Singapore are less convinced that their needs are understood (21%, 38% and 38%, respectively).

Brands won’t be able to solve their CX problems with technology alone – it’s just an enabler, facilitating the connection between a product or service and consumers. Instead, they must find a way to create an experience that blends consumer demand for tech with their strong desire for authentic, personal interaction. They don’t need to look far though – employees hold the key to creating and sustaining great interactions with consumers.

In short, consumers are willing to pay for a customer experience that goes beyond the norm and brings together the elements of people, technology and service with a smile.