Like the rest of the world, Kenya’s business sector has been significantly affected and reshaped by the global COVID-19 pandemic, with a large portion of commercial activity shifting to the digital space as physical interactions practically ceased.
Interestingly, we are now seeing businesses mushrooming out of nowhere, and these are often companies that did not have a real strategy before but shaped their models around the pandemic. These start-ups are thriving because they have taken up the challenge and launched entirely online, using technology to reach more customers.
Despite this accelerated digitisation, SMS is and will likely remain for some time yet, the most widely used channel for customer communication. This is largely due to Kenya having a large proportion of feature phone users often located in remote areas, but it is also at the forefront of mobile penetration on the continent, with 4G connectivity and infrastructure that is increasingly reaching these areas.
Yet, we have also seen significant uptake of chat apps such as WhatsApp by local businesses during the past year, thanks to smartphones becoming increasingly cheaper too. There is a noticeable trend toward businesses exploring alternative channels and adopting multiple channels to engage with their customers.
Now is the ideal time for companies to start adopting an omnichannel approach to customer engagement. An omnichannel solution brings an array of communication options, allowing the customer to interact with their brand over the channel of their choice.
Further strengthening the case for omnichannel adoption is the fact that Kenya has a young population, with more than 50 per cent below the age of 30. This demographic does not want to use traditional channels such as voice to communicate with a business. These customers are more likely to use chat apps and SMS and demand instant response.
Not only does an omnichannel approach provide customers with their choice of preferred channels, but it also allows the business to segment its client base and effectively target relevant and personalised messaging at specific groups or individuals. This is key to offering an enhanced customer experience (CX), which remains the only true differentiator in a competitive market.
The trend towards digitisation is evident in areas such as Kenya’s microfinance sector, where thousands of different Savings and Credit Co-operative Societies (SACCOS) provide loans and financing for their members. While SACCOS traditionally operated out of physical offices, most have shifted all their services online – from onboarding new members to giving out loans.
Have a strategy
Despite the many benefits, the decision of whether to adopt an omnichannel approach should not be taken lightly. Last year, with the outbreak of COVID-19, we saw many companies rushing to adopt solutions that they did not fully understand due to a lack of planning. The same counts for omnichannel – make sure you have a strategy, and the solution supports your business objectives.
If leveraged effectively, an omnichannel platform will not only enhance the CX but will also contribute to cost savings and add to the bottom line. A targeted and personalised promotional dialogue will bring the right products and services to the right customer, resulting in a greater return on investment for the campaign.
Another benefit is that a unified CX is the key to creating powerful human connections. As human beings, we want to have things just the way we like them. We want to be reached on our favourite channels and we don’t want to struggle to communicate. We want to chat and get instant feedback.
Effectively, businesses should look to an omnichannel platform that allows for a combination of communication channels and personalised messaging as key for a holistic approach to customer engagement and powerful human connection at scale.
By Doreen Kinja, Team Leader at Infobip Kenya