Navigating customer experience in Africa requires constant innovation

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Pre-pandemic, the African economy was on an upward trajectory. Once COVID-19 hit the continent however, things took a turn for the worse.

The World Bank said in 2020 that the economic downturn brought about by the pandemic would cost Sub-Saharan Africa at least $115 billion due to output losses. However, in that same report, the World Bank expected the region to bounce back in 2021.

“Many countries have seized the opportunity within the crisis to move faster on necessary reforms and investments that will be crucial for long-term development,” the organisation said.

Governments aren’t the only ones who need to move fast on reforms although when were talking about business, replace reform with innovation.

Where once this meant creating mind-blowing new products and solutions, according to Infobip country manager for Nigeria, Olatayo Ladipo-Ajai, customer experience is a channel business owners should focus on innovating in.

“The modern customer is increasingly relying on digital channels to engage with businesses in this fast-growing market [Africa], and these need to ensure that they are communicating effectively with the connected consumer to ensure an enhanced Customer Experience (CX) by engaging faster and via customers’ channels of choice,” says Ladipo-Ajai.

The point about customers’ channels of choice is incredibly important in an African context. For instance, in 2019, there were some 800 million people who lived in areas where they don’t have access to connectivity. As many as 44 percent of that figure live in Sub-Saharan Africa. For this reason, a customer experience platform that requires a customer be online is a bad idea for most businesses.

Similarly however, your business might be in a region where the cost of a call makes contacting customer service prohibitively expensive.

Of course, developing a bespoke customer experience solution that accounts for every platform a customer may use is a costly exercise.

For that reason many businesses make use of software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers but this presents a bit of a problem, according to Ladipo-Ajai.

“Every organisation wants to make money, save money and grow the business. These three pillars are centred around the customer and how an organisation is able to manage its customer base via its communication strategy and available channels, as well as how the customer is able to access these,” says the country manager.

“Unfortunately, most communication platform and omnichannel providers fail to understand these three dynamics and solely focus on what they perceived to be the needs of an organisation. This challenge becomes particularly pronounced when organisations have to deal with service providers who are not focused on what the outcome of their business should be. Many services providers tend to focus on pricing and not delivering true value to the organisation, leaving organisations to deal with multiple vendors and technologies, instead of focusing on true customer engagement,” adds Ladipo-Ajai.

When choosing a SaaS provider then, Ladipo-Ajai advises looking for an organisation that is constantly innovating and that aligns with your organisation’s business objectives.

Flexibility is also rather important as is dymanic pricing models so those should be what you look for in a service provider.

“Given the diverse and unique nature of the African market, a one-size-fits-all approach to communication will not work effectively on the continent,” the Infobip manager added.

While it’s nearly impossible to account for every touch point a customer might make use of, it is vital that your business is able to address and fill that gap quickly and efficiently.

Why? Well because if your business doesn’t do that, the competition will.

Customer experience can make or break a business and with a pandemic showing no signs of abating, businesses need every edge they can get.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.