- By Clint Wheelock
- January 24, 2023
Clint Payne is CX lead of the digital team at the MultiChoice Group, Africa’s biggest pay TV provider and operator of the DStv satellite television service in 47 countries across the continent’s Sub-Saharan region.
Tasked with aligning experiences across not only MultiChoice businesses (South Africa, The Rest of Africa, and Connected Video) but also channels (physical, satellite and online), Payne believes it is imperative for customer journeys to evolve and unify experiences both physical and digital.
The first to admit that he knew very little about CX when he entered the field in 2008, Payne says he has spent the ensuing years learning about CX in a specifically African context while also tapping into the expertise of CX practitioners all over the world. In testing Africa’s version of CX, he believes the skills and potential to compete with the rest of the world can be found and exist in South Africa.
A problem-solver by nature, Payne likes tackling complex organizational processes—the kind that sometimes makes it difficult for companies to connect with their customers—and nurturing those relationships. Honored with awards in the last five years, Payne says he is most proud of the recognition bestowed by peers in the CXPA awards in 2018, and by the publication in 2020 by Gartner detailing how a model that Payne conceived and implemented helped improve cross-functional commitment to CX, which Gartner has also designated as a “best practices” case study.
Most Significant CX Challenges
A pioneer in Africa’s pay TV service that launched the continent’s first digital satellite service in 1980, MultiChoice is headquartered in South Africa, isolated to some degree because of the country’s geographic location.
Given the current age’s appetite for constant quantification, how to best calculate CX represents a continuing area of interest for Payne. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” he asserts. Payne is also a fierce Voice of the Customer (VoC) proponent, holding the staunch belief that those unable to get value from VoC must be going about their ways incorrectly.
After the company’s CX measurement methodology was attacked, Payne determined that a new customer satisfaction system was needed—one that used the correct sampling size and also spread the sampling over a longer span of time—e.g., a full month—rather than confining the sampling to a concentrated period. The new system began at the company’s call center—a microcosm of the entire business, Payne believes—and started by sampling calls for a single agent over the course of a month, using CSATs that did not exceed five questions. Individual agent scores were added to form team leader scores, and all team leader scores were combined to create center manager scores. The scores of various executives were aggregated by function, and all managers were assessed on their satisfaction quotients for them to qualify for bonuses. Digital channels can be aggregated in the same fashion, Payne states, but customers expect perfection in digital environments and are unforgiving of any gaps or lapses.
All told, CX is a field of continuing iteration that entails a 5- to 7-year learning curve, Payne believes, and is an ideal tool to measure the four key dimensions of sales, gross revenue, retention, and CX in all companies.
CX Success Stories
MultiChoice has seen an upward increase in the organizational use of customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores during the last five years, and what started with 17 survey touchpoints now includes more than 35 to ensure that all CX aspects are measured. If a customer responds to a survey within the first 10 minutes, MultiChoice fields a follow-up survey to the agent. The follow-up survey is then forwarded by the agent to the responsive customer in hopes of obtaining additional information on the customer’s service delivery experience, from which “a map of investment priorities” could be drawn to determine the most impactful resources for deployment.
In his extensive experience working with customers, Payne says the single most important factor today for CX success when providing service at installations is punctuality, not price or appearance. Failing to tidy up creates negative CX among customers, he adds, but cleaning up is all but expected and does not serve to lift up the service provider’s standing. Any errors in direct-debit payments also have a very negative impact on CX and on customers’ perception of the brand.
The reliance of MultiChoice on CSAT has opened up the company to those who challenge the methodology for its lack of qualitative feedback and the erroneous perception that higher CSAT scores automatically translate into greater customer loyalty. Yet Payne admits to not being a great fan of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) system, MultiChoice’s previous mechanism. Even so, a research company runs NPS for MultiChoice to provide benchmark comparisons against MultiChoice competitors in the market, while demonstrating to critics that the company has viable methodology alternatives besides CSAT.
Another challenge for MultiChoice is the relative concentration of its business in South Africa, with an operating business unit for that market and another “everything else” unit comprising the major markets of Nigeria, Kenya, and Ethiopia. The strategic choice to concentrate MultiChoice resources in South Africa was cascaded via priorities and KPIs to all managers for compliance. As a result of the strategy, some initiatives were not implemented equally across the entire corporate group.
MultiChoice does not use any major CX platforms because of the cost and expense involved, says Payne. Instead, the company counts three current areas of investment in technology: Genex, for feedback collection; Smoke, for focused execution, with the rules of the game defined by or based on specific events or circumstances; and the internal development of a business intelligence (BI) environment, with emphasis primarily on expanding the BI team.
For the future, the organization will start to search for proxies to stand in place of CSAT when prudent, limiting the use of CSAT only to areas where the scores can add true value. MultiChoice is also interested in enhancing CSAT insights with insights obtained from social media, overlaying those two areas at the aggregate level to produce altogether new understandings and perspectives.
Predictions for CX Market Development
The company needs to find the mechanism to carry out CX “at the edge,” away from centralized CX operation. In the early days of the company, no one knew where the CX team belonged or who should direct the team. Payne would also like to see the use of both NPS ratings and customer journey mapping come to an end. “They are the two biggest red herrings in the industry—and by a long shot,” Payne states unequivocally.
About the CX Innovator Series
The CX Innovator Series is an actionable and educational industry initiative that showcases the best practices that leading end-user executives are using within their organizations to shape their community’s experience. The series is a collaborative effort between Dash Network, Sleeping Giant Labs, and Team Wakabayashi. Using expertly curated executive interviews combined with quantitative research from consumer surveys, the CX Innovator Series provides tangible insights and a deeper understanding of how successful companies are utilizing CX programs resulting in positive business outcomes.
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