Three ways Spree is leading the way for customer experience in Africa

Sven Schoof, head of customer experience at Spree, unpacks three ways in which Spree is leading the way for CX in South Africa, and how important it is for brands to keep innovating to remain relevant.The current state of the customer experience industry sees a continuous evolution. There are a few lighthouse examples of offering great customer experiences in South Africa, but, at the same time, there is much room for improvement.Even though awareness around great customer experiences and the need to invest in customer-centricity is growing, too many companies still offer poor customer experiences.
1. Innovation and growth in the industry
In this digitally enhanced, always on and increasingly transparent world, brands that are not embracing customer centricity are likely to face an increasing amount of issues. If your company is not innovating and attempting to find ways to delight your customers, you can be assured that your competitors are. Ultimately, fostering long-term loyalty of your customer base is always highly profitable.From a retail perspective, it is primarily all about having a well-designed, high-performance, mobile-first online offering, showcasing relevant products at the right price points. And, as for any other business, offering a delightful customer experience needs to permeate every layer of the business – from the technology to the user interface, from the customer service to the courier handing over the parcel.
2. Transforming customer experience with technology
In order to transform our customer experience, we recently launched a highly innovative image search and similar style feature in the Spree shopping app. The visual search technology uses images uploaded by users as search queries instead of keywords.It then returns visually similar images by analysing the pixels inside the image instead of the image metadata (size, resolution, etc.) The order of the displayed images is based on the parameters; colour, pattern, and style silhouette – all of which have different weightings.Within the existing search functionality, the Spree app now offers a feature, which allows shoppers to take a photo or upload an image, which will return visually similar items in seconds. Finding similar styles while browsing is now also easier; shoppers can tap and hold any product image in a category, search results or product view and the feature will highlight items that are visually similar.It is imperative that we invest in this new technology. Within the past one to two years, Facebook, Google, Pinterest, and Amazon have all released image-based search or recommendations features.This clear global trend uses today’s technological advances in artificial intelligence (AI) to make life easier and more intuitive for customers – especially when using mobile devices; another global trend. As a mobile-first company that continuously tries to delight our customers, investing in this new technology made absolute sense to Spree.
3. Why it works
So far, we have received a lot of positive results. The ‘Similar Styles’ feature is gaining traction fast, as it is very easy and intuitive to use by merely tapping and holding on a product image. The increase in engagement is the most positive feedback we have, but it is still early days and we are very excited to see how our customers will be using our image search features in the near future.We anticipated high engagement for the ‘Similar Styles’ feature, and slightly less for the ‘Image Search’ feature, as this requires more interaction. This has so far proven to be spot on, but again, it is early days and we are still learning.Regarding the ‘Image Search’, we are pleased to see that the image quality used by our customers has been improving and that they are moving towards using social media images to find matching Spree products.
The future is of course hard to predict, but I can safely say that in my view, companies will continue to focus on getting the mobile customer experience right, as well as viewing customer-centricity as a holistic approach that requires the entire company to buy in to make it successful.There are quite a few brands that are leading the way for customer experience in South Africa. One of them is the online home and kitchen retailer, Yuppiechef, which stands out as a leader in creating delightful customer experiences and thereby gaining customer loyalty.I believe that we can inspire growth and innovation in the South African customer experience industry by leading by example. Singular companies that shine by innovating within the customer experience sphere will automatically drive others to follow suit. For more information, visit www.spree.co.za. Alternatively, connect with them on Facebook, Twitter or on Instagram.

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