Finance Indaba panel discusses how technology supports customer service


Customers are becoming more tech-savvy as Fourth Industrial Revolution becomes more entrenched.

The mobile phone has done away with the need for an alarm clocks, diary books, calculators, the post office and fax machines. Now mobile payments using smart technology like QR codes are slowly eliminating the need for wallets. In fact, most of China and Singapore have become almost cashless, putting pick-pocketers out of work! As customers globally embrace the comforts and conveniences of technology, big companies must adapt to stay relevant to consumers.

Earlier this week, at the Finance Indaba in Sandton, Discovery Health’s CFO Brett Tromp and travel group Flight Centre’s Bonnie Smith shared some insight into how their companies have improved customer service by embracing technology.

Bonnie said Flight Centre has come along way from the traditional world of travel booking to using technology to engage with their customers throughout their trips. While holiday makers use technology to post their enviable pool-side cocktail selfies on social media, Flight Centre uses the technology to enhance their service delivery.

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Bonnie said:

“We’ve enabled automation, increased productivity, and we’re also able to talk to our customers throughout their journey, so gone are the days that you come in, you book your trip, we put it through the system and we see you at your next trip.”

Technology has not only brought travellers instant contact with their travel agents, but it’s enabled companies like Flight Centre improve their response time to problems encountered during travel. “If there are difficulties while travelling, we’re able to interact with agents in that country, make arrangements and ensure travelers can return home safely,” said Bonnie.

Discovery’s Brett said the arrival of Fourth Industrial Revolution is not daunting for health giant.

“Discovery’s DNA has always been one of forward thinking and innovation.”

Brett said shared values with their customer is part of Discovery’s business model. “We use technology to interact with our customers seamlessly, so technology is part of doing business for us,” said Brett.

Although he points out that South Africans still love phone calls. Discovery handles some 50,000 calls a day, which is one of the major cost factors for the company. Brett says another challenge in the health space is the affordability of good health care. “Expensive healthcare is a huge issue, so we’ve got to make healthcare cheaper, we’ve got to make it more affordable and that’s a real worldwide challenge.”

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