How can Safaricom stay ahead of Airtel Kenya, Orange Kenya (Telkom Kenya) and Yu

For starters, we all know that Safaricom is the mobile phone service provider with more subscribers than any other mobile phone service provider in Kenya.

I’m writing this post, not only to show you how Safaricom can stay further ahead of the others.

I also want you to learn a thing or two that may help you in taking your business, company or organization to the next level – better service, innovations, positive impact on people’s lives, and of course, more profits.

Let’s take a look at the competition among the telcos in Kenya

I’ve always liked Safaricom for one thing – ‘honesty’.

Whenever they introduce a new tariff, they’ll let you know whether it’s permanent or just a two-month offer.

This is unlike some of the players who say a tariff is permanent only later to re-appear on TV screens (and newspapers) saying it was just an offer.

Though Safaricom has been accused of a lot of things – some of which I’m not going to mention here, I still respect their brutal honesty, when CEO Bob Collymore says: I don’t want to lower call rates to a shilling. I don’t want to lay off people...

Very cheap call rates can easily result into players giving poor services to Kenyan consumers.

Safaricom therefore, has to build more trust. Trust matters a lot. It’s not good when consumers trust no more a company’s position on a particular matter.

And here they have to deal with two things: the consumers want for cheaper call rates vs charging enough to uphold the quality they offer phone users while remaining profitable.

M-Pesa versus Airtel Money, yuCash and Orange Money

Yes, here again Safaricom is ahead of the pack.

But how can it go further?

Safaricom has to find a way to reduce the number of occasions that its M-Pesa services get delayed. Safaricom subscribers hate it when they hear M-Pesa is down – especially when they are expecting some money in order to get a business deal sealed or in cases of emergency.

There was a time I tried to update my M-Pesa menu, thinking there might be some updates.

My Kenya shillings 20 was deducted from my M-PESA account yet there were no updates available.

It was like going to a shop, thinking there was bread, only for the shopkeeper to take my money in return for no bread – nothing.

Subscribers hate it when the money they’ve worked so hard for is snatched from them without any explanation. I hope this has stopped, but if it hasn’t, it should forthwith.

And this doesn’t have to apply only to M-PESA but to all the services they offer consumers in Kenya (and those who carry their lines to other countries when travelling).

M-Pesa is popular and has millions of Kenyans and non-Kenyans using M-Pesa services on a daily basis. Some of them sometimes send money to wrong numbers unknowingly. They then try to call the recipient’s number. But you know the story. Some receive the money, then rush to withdraw it or switch off their phones.

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The problem is the sender sometimes doesn’t know what to do next (especially if they are in neighbouring countries and can’t call 234 for help). And even if one is in Kenya, it might take several minutes before a subscriber finally gets to talk to a customer care representative.

One time this happened to a friend. He didn’t know what to do after sending a whopping 23,000 Kenya shillings from his M-PESA account to a wrong number. He didn’t know what to do.

We were students deep down in Fort Portal, Uganda. I couldn’t offer any help, so I suggested we try searching for information on safaricom.co.ke – yes we did find some info on what to do when you send money to a wrong number.

That didn’t help much.

Fortunately, he got help when he called one of his friends who told him to call +254722002234. He reached M-Pesa customer care and after sometime his money was back in his M-PESA account.

Most Safaricom subscribers who use M-Pesa don’t have a clue on what to do when they send money to a wrong number. And I haven’t seen this info shared on newspapers or TVs a reasonable number of times though they haven’t done a bad job here.

I hope Safaricom will do that, given that some M-Pesa users live far from Safaricom customer care centers and retail shops where one can ‘easily get help’.

The M-Pesa menu is user-friendly but Safaricom should find more ways to make it easier to use and people will love M-Pesa even more.

I also think that Safaricom’s M-Pesa transaction charges are high compared to that of the other mobile phone service providers in Kenya.

If Safaricom can find ways to lower them without compromising on quality, that may be an added advantage…but will they with the dwindling profits?

Of course, they have revised their rates from time to time to the benefit of mobile money users in Kenya. That’s commendable. But there, always, is more to be done.

When I compare response time whenever I call customer care service lines of the different mobile phone operators in Kenya, I think Orange’s the best.

You throw questions and you get answers (I only hate it when they take days to activate  a desktop for internet services)…may be it’s because they have a few subscribers…

I know Safaricom has many subscribers, but they should make things easier for their subscribers whenever they call 100 or 234 (customer care lines).

Here’s how to do it: Train your employees to answer subscribers’ questions fast…when giving help or advice without treating the customer as less of a king.

There was a time I changed (swapped) my green Safaricom SIM card to the red ones (the process took under three minutes – thumbs up Safaricom) but my M-Pesa account wasn’t functioning.

It prompted me to ACTIVATE (Wezesha) my account. I had to enter my ID number (I used my passport to register for M-Pesa).

I keyed in my passport number, including the letter which normally precede the six numbers in Kenyan passports. That didn’t work. I tried my national ID number. It didn’t work either.

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I visited an M-Pesa agent for help, guy had no clue.

One night (after several attempts to reach 100 and 234) I talked to two customer care agents who didn’t offer much help.

My M-Pesa account started functioning again only after another customer care agent told me to omit the letter ‘A’ which formed part of my passport number when keying my passport number.

That worked!

I wonder how much time and resources could be saved (and how many more Safaricom subscribers could get help) if the first customer care agent I talked to gave me the appropriate advice pronto.

This problem is not a madness only here at Safaricom. The other mobile phone service providers too, suffer from this fever – where the first customer care agent you talk to isn’t able to offer the help a user needs.

Many mobile phone subscribers don’t like it when a customer care agent is clueless, beating around the bush or showing signs of aggressiveness or uttering abbreviations or acronyms they can’t clearly explain to a customer who wants to know, right away.

Equip your customer care team with the right info. Let them have the info customers need on their fingertips (or tongue-tips).

Train them on ways to pass info in thirty seconds instead of doing the same in one long boring minute.

Sometimes when Safaricom customer care lines are busy, subscribers waste their time following the voice prompts and pressing their phone keys only to be told, ‘All our customer care agents are busy at the moment. Please try again later. Goodbye.’ And that’s around six minutes wasted. Try calling 5 times – and you can find that you have thrown away 30 good minutes.

Safaricom should find a way to curb frustration that subscribers face in such circumstances.

I have heard talks of M-PesAPI, iPay, Pesapal etc. Safaricom should be closer to developers than ever before.

Many Kenyans are embracing online shops, shopping for goods or services online then paying using M-Pesa, Airtel Money, Yu Cash and Orange Money.

Safaricom should work with bright Kenyan developers (and developers from elsewhere) to add more value to their services – or create new services.

There are millions using M-Pesa, and I see the future of online businesses getting brighter.

Plus, can Safaricom work a deal with Paypal? Many Kenyans have waited for Paypal to find a local partner (or partners) but hey, haven’t we, besides PayPal withdrawal services offered by Equity Bank, waited for too long?

Now that there’s Western Union Mobile (where someone can send money from a Western Union agent location to a Safaricom number – M-Pesa account, from many countries), creating a partnership with Paypal is not impossible – though it is hard, it can be achieved (or may be we will continue to wait for Paypal to find other suitable financial institution to partner with – besides Equity).

What about internet and data issues? So many Kenyan consumers still believe Safaricom data bundles are expensive. Surfing the internet on a mobile phone using a Safaricom SIM card is cheap and fast enough. But many people still consider their USB modems cheap to buy but expensive to maintain.

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Safaricom has to find a way to either convince users why they settled on the bundle prices they currently charge for the various data

bundles they offer or find ways to make the bundles affordable to more Safaricom users…increase download and upload speeds.

I enjoy my 10 MB of data on a daily basis whenever I am in Kenya.

It only goes for 8 Kenya shillings.

That’s enough for me to search for any info I want from my Motorola L6 mobile phone.

But when it comes to surfing on a desktop computer or on my Advent netbook, I usually find myself using either Yu or Orange Kenya (Telkom Kenya) services.

And all the talk about 3G (4G)…is it really 3G (4G)…or sometimes the network gets too congested?

Safaricom has to find ways to convince Kenyan consumers to use its broad range of data products. I spend most of my time on the internet…spend a little time calling people – and I believe most Kenyans are going this route, too.

Safaricom should offer more superior products – because I don’t think slashing prices will be of any good if the products aren’t up to user expectation.

I’d go for an expensive but superior product – if it’s something reliable and faster.

And may be it is time Safaricom promoted more local content (song downloads etc) on www.safaricom.com portal.

Safaricom should also increase their network coverage and signal strength in some parts of Kenya. Safaricom should also work on decongesting its network.

Tweak the following services: Okoa Jahazi, Bonga Points, SMS services, ATM withdrawal and enable people to get back/reclaim their money when they sambaza it to a wrong number..

In a few days or weeks we shall look at the relationship between Safaricom and its subscribers and what Safaricom can do to ensure the company and its customers remain together forever.

So you should come back here at Prifad.com for the updates.

What did I miss? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments.

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