Apr 20, 2012
Service increasingly critical as consumers discover social-networking powerBack
Africa|Facebook|Foschini|Lighting|Twitter|Woolworths|World Wide Worx|Africa|South Africa|Fashion Chain|Food|Internet Research|News Feed Site|Product|Products|Service|Social Media|Social Networks|Social Site|Arthur Goldstuck|Bruce Whitfield|Power|Talk Radio 702|Simultaneous Technology|Smart Phones|Smartphone
© Reuse this
About a third of South African cellular smartphone users were using their devices to browse the Internet at the beginning of 2011. However, a further 26% are expected to join them, which means that, by the middle of this year, half of the adult market in towns and cities, between five- million and six-million people, will be browsing the Internet on their phones and will have an instant mobile broadcast mechanism in their hands at all times.
“Social networks, such as social site Facebook and news feed site Twitter, have transformed how the customer thinks and behaves and the smartphone revolution has [changed] the way in which South Africans access information,” he says.
A number of big brands have already come under the whip of social media, explains Goldstuck.
For example, food and clothing retailer Woolworths had to reverse a decision to remove a Christian magazine from its shelves because customers in the store could send messages to others to boycott the company.
Further, fashion chain Foschini ignored a feminist blog decrying a range of its T-shirts sporting misogynist or antifeminist messages.
However, a link to the blog was posted on Twitter, from where it went viral and, within 12 hours, forced the CEO of Foschini to appear on Talk Radio 702’s Bruce Whitfield show to apologise, assure South Africans that the range had been withdrawn from all stores and confirm that people had been fired for allowing the T-shirt range into its stores.
“This is because people have their phones in their hands and can object, reject and spread messages to everyone they know, who, [in turn], can also spread the message. The viral effect of such messages means that companies can no longer afford to let their customers down or treat them badly, because customers will ensure that all potential customers know about that,” he warns.
This places significant demand on every business in every sector to reinvent itself and business has to take account of changes that have occurred as well as changes that are coming, emphasises Goldstuck, high- lighting the accelerating use of the Internet and smart phones in the mass market in South Africa.
“Companies must successfully market the value proposition of the products to be adopted into the mass market. However, once a product is adopted, many companies cannot keep up with demand or, if they can meet demand, they cannot meet the support needs for the product, which is where further risk lies.”
Support for a product has become a critical element and successful product support is often more important than the supply. This is why, if companies cannot meet demand, they must manage the expectations of customers, which means engaging with customers, he advises.
Goldstuck cites two examples of companies using the different communication channels effectively, with high-level management often engaging directly, which lends authenticity to a company’s customer communication channels.
“Authenticity is important, but the CEO also expects a response to a query to be deliv- ered within five minutes to the correct person for resolution. Because the executives are hands-on and use the channels effectively, this is the best strategy for engaging with this simultaneous technology and communi- cation revolution, which began in 2011.”
Goldstuck recommends a team of people manage engagements over different communication channels and use the viral effect of social networks to spread information.
However, he emphasises that companies must stick to their core competences or run the risk of failing and must also engage different market segments differently to weather the storm of technological change.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other News This Week News
Updated 2 hours 34 minutes ago The Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) has outperformed its targets over the past financial year and contributed R3.1-billion to the gross domestic product in the 2013/14 financial year. CTICC CEO Julie-May Ellingson said the convention centre had been...
Updated 3 hours ago Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has released details of the remuneration of the chairpersons and nonexecutive directors of the various State-owned company boards falling under her Ministry. The remuneration figures, which are attached, are based on figures...
Updated 3 hours ago Installed wind power capacity could swell by 530% to 2,000 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, supplying up to 19% of global electricity, a report from a trade association and Greenpeace said on Tuesday. It said installed wind energy capacity totalled 318 GW at the end of last...
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
This Week's Magazine
The broad-based black economic-empowerment (BBBEE) alignment process in the con-struction sector has begun, dur-ing which the sector codes of the Construction Sector Charter Council (CSCC) will be aligned with the revised Codes of Good Practice (CoGP), which come...
It is second time lucky for Toby Venter. Ten years ago he negotiated to buy the Kyalami racetrack, but “the deal did not materialise”.
Environmental solutions company I-Cat started construction work on its R22-million, 1 949 m2 environmentally sustainable office and warehouse facility, commissioned by I-CAT Environmental Solutions, at a launch event in October. The new sustainable I-CAT campus,...
Effective file synchronisation and sharing across an organisation’s structures can provide the basis for robust mobile-device and document management while maintaining proper backup, version control and content distribution. These are the lessons learned by complex...
Hotel group Carlson Rezidor currently holds the largest hotel pipeline in Africa with 30 hotels and 6 300 rooms under development. The hotel group develops and operates Radisson Blu in the upper upscale segment and Park Inn by Radisson in the mid-market segment. With...