Why CX maturity isn’t a checklist

The more personalisation is embedded within the business model, the more effectively it can improve revenue.
By Tamsin Mackay
Johannesburg, 20 Jun 2024
Daniël Swiegers, Namola
Daniël Swiegers, Namola

Companies still locked into the idea that one customer experience (CX) strategy fits everyone are losing ground to the companies that have adopted data, analytics, AI and personalisation. The age of one-size-fits-all is over. Today, data should be the protagonist of the customer story, embedding personalisation throughout the business and its CX strategy.

The more personalisation is embedded within the business model, the more effectively it can improve revenue. Why? Because customers want to be seen.

How can companies best go about this? Personalised customer experiences that pay attention to what the customer actually wants and needs, not what the business thinks they need. Finding these wants and needs is the challenge. It’s a mindset shift and an investment into technology that allows for the chief experience officer (CXO) to uncover insights and ensure they’re acted on, and that all levels of the organisation recognise the value of CX.

“The core element of a successful personalisation strategy has always been the data,” says Debbie Cunningham, head of digital technologies for the Shoprite Group. “How you pull the data together, how you leverage it, and how you do this responsibly.”

Data is the key. In its “Customer Loyalty Executive Survey 2023”, PwC perhaps phrased it best when describing customer loyalty as a “growth engine” capable of increasing profitability and value while influencing the customer’s behaviour. The magic, says PwC, lies in the perfect balance of community, delight, ease, uniqueness and value. It is also in finding a smart route through the data, as Cunningham pointed out. How can brands use the data effectively without crossing personal lines? Well, as it turns out, customers will share their data with companies they feel loyalty towards, but the level of sharing will vary dependent on the generation – Boomers hold it close, Millennials are open, and Gen Z will share almost everything except data about their families.

Success lies in ensuring the benefits offered by the business equate to the value of the data shared by the customer. Do they feel they are getting back what they put in? Is their data being used to create comprehensive or relevant experiences that are appreciably better than what they’re used to? For Daniël Swiegers, head of operations at safety app Namola, a core element of customer experience lies in just getting a quick, responsive answer.

Your call is important to us

“Billings fail, things go wrong, the app breaks, these are expected. For us, it’s moving away from the support side of the function into a holistic experience where people get quick replies and solutions to their problems.”

Customer service is the backbone of the customer experience and there is a lot of work to be done on fixing it. A Super- Office survey found that 62% of companies simply ignore customer service emails, 97% don’t send a follow-up email, and only 20% answer a customer’s question on their first reply. Imagine the frustration. You probably don’t have to – you may be one of the 61% of people who just hung up when trying to resolve your problem with a call.

It takes the conversation back to the data and its practical application to realworld challenges and customer interactions.

“It’s moving away from the support side of the function into a holistic experience where people get quick replies and solutions to their problems.”

Daniël Swiegers, Namola

“Customer experiences and personalisation go hand in hand,” says Christoph Nieuwoudt, chief data and analytics officer at FNB. “As a bank, it is central to meeting our customers’ financial wellness needs – the products we offer, how we position the products, and the messaging that goes with it. We try to keep things simple, and behind that simplicity is a set of powerful data products designed to reflect a deep understanding of customer behaviour and needs.”

Integrating the data and its relevant insights and content across multiple channels and focusing on ensuring this information is shared in real-time, or as close as possible, is a foundational part of the FNB strategy. It is echoed by Shoprite’s Cunningham.

Fine-tuning success

“We’ve gathered vast quantities of data points on our customers – what they shop for, what they regularly buy, and when they start pulling back on spend. However, these insights are only as good as what you do with them and, for us, it is having a clear personalisation strategy. This data allows us to generate personalised offers for customers and relevant Xtra Savings deals that make their experiences more engaging on our digital channels,” says Cunningham.

Building out the customer experience with the data and the technology is only one part of the equation. The other is constantly fine-tuning metrics defined by the business and its niche. For some, it would be the key performance indicators of public scoring metrics that include net promoter scores and Hello Peter, while for others, it would also be built on customer lifetime value, churn, revenue and engagement.

“The core element of a successful personalisation strategy has always been the data.”

Debbie Cunningham, Shoprite Group

Engagement can be measured by clickthrough rates, which are often a good indication of how well customers are responding to offerings. Some engagement metrics can be measured on an individual basis to understand if communication has to be tailored for a hyper-segment, while reinforcement learning can be used to update strategies and approaches on the customer level. This data can then be balanced with a customer satisfaction matrix that is harder to meet, but does overlay insight over performance. These quantitative approaches can be optimised to deliver improved customer retention and improve the customer vertical sales index.

“These are all powerful tools, but the starting point is actually very simple – engagement and customer satisfaction,” says Nieuwoudt.

Companies need to ask how the tools they are using to measure the customer’s experience and engagement directly benefit the business. Is the data ensuring the company is on track? Is the company making the right decisions for the customer? How does this information translate into understanding a customer’s appetite for digital, propensity for a particular product, the channels they use, where they prefer to connect and engage, and whether or not they are evolving into an omnichannel customer across physical and digital touchpoints.

The answers rest not just in how the organisation collates and leverages its data or the technology it uses to capture that data, but in how personalisation is architected within the business to create an ecosystem around the customer.


Shoprite takes all the data it has about the customer and architects it in a way that draws insights that are filtered through to personalised customer communications via email and surfaced on the Checkers Sixty60 app. When customers come to the app, it has highly personalised offers, showcasing relevant Xtra Savings deals for most frequently purchased products.

“We try to personalise as much as possible,” says Debbie Cunningham, Shoprite Group. “It creates relevancy for the consumer so they can see what they may have forgotten – did they miss out on dog food this month, for example – or what they can save on.”

The company takes all the insights to create an effortless experience for the customer where they feel they are a priority, not just a revenue source.


  • Checkers Sixty60 was launched in November 2019 with nine beta stores as the pilot.
  • Sales growth saw an 81.5% increase in 2023 on top of 149.8% in 2022.
  • The app has a national footprint in 466 locations.
  • It has created 9 091 new job opportunities since launch.
  • Checkers Xtra Savings had more than one million customers join within 72 hours of launch.
  • In 2024, Xtra Savings has more than 29 million customers and is the largest rewards programme in South Africa.
  • Customers have saved R8.4 billion in instant cash savings across Shoprite and Checkers supermarkets over the past six months.


  • 61% of customers will pay around 5% more if they’re assured of a good customer experience (Emplifi)
  • 70% - the perception that there is a direct link between customer service and company performance (Zendesk)
  • 81% of customers will buy again with a good customer experience (Zendesk)
  • 66% of consumers will walk away from a brand after a terrible experience (Sitecore)
  • 73% of customers will do business with a competitor if they don’t enjoy their experience with your brand (Zendesk)


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