How your business can stay alive through COVID-19 and beyond
Nairobi, Kenya –
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to businesses. As a result, Customer Experience across different industries has been affected as revealed by Ajua’s Customer Loyalty Benchmark for Quarter 1 2020. However, these challenges present opportunities for businesses to leverage and navigate through this uncertain time. Speaking at an Ajua webinar on how COVID-19 has Jumpstarted the 4th Industrial Revolution, Dr. Bitange Ndemo noted, “The biggest strength humans have is the ability to adapt, things have changed, we need to adapt to new methods. Our current inefficiencies are our greatest opportunities, we need to exploit them.”
In order to enable businesses to stay alive and quickly identify some of these challenges, Ajua asked Kenyans what changes they experienced during the pandemic when interacting with businesses across 9 industries including Mobile money lenders, Healthcare, Insurance, Food and beverage among others.
Several businesses are already taking measures to observe social distancing and ensure the health and safety of their employees. Some of the actions being taken by businesses across the board include facilitating deliveries and takeaway services, encouraging cashless transactions, reducing physical paperwork, providing handwashing stations or sanitizers at strategic points within their premises. Staff and customers alike are required to undergo temperature checks, sanitize and wear masks before being allowed entry into business premises.
More businesses are also encouraging their customers to engage them through their call centers, social media and other online platforms. However, many customers have complained about dormant online customer care platforms and poor online customer service. Businesses need to ensure that these engagement platforms are fully operational to offer a seamless experience and avoid tarnishing their brands.
However, despite some of the measures taken by businesses to prevent the spread of the virus, customers are still generally avoiding crowded areas and questioning hygiene standards. In restaurants for instance, many still fear that precautions are not taken into account when preparing food and prefer to prepare their own meals at home. Retail customers have also sought alternatives such as small local kiosks and online shopping to avoid crowded shops.
Government restrictions to enforce social distancing such as the curfew and cessation of movement across counties have also brought about some challenges, notably in the energy and insurance industries. Many motorists have reported that due to limited movement, they are delaying the renewal of their motor insurance. They have also opted to fill their fuel tanks whenever they visit petrol stations to reduce the number of visits.
In the healthcare industry, Kenyans have grown increasingly hesitant to visit hospitals over fear of contracting the virus. Many Kenyans have also expressed concern over whether their insurers will cover COVID-19. Kenyans also reported that many private hospitals have suspended the use of NHIF insurance covers which has been an additional source of stress for many. Social distancing measures have compromised patients’ privacy in both hospitals and pharmacies. Health workers and pharmacists need to be at least one meter away during consultation hence patients may have to shout. One customer shared, “You can’t go close to the doctor, hence you have to shout your problems which is not good at all.” Some customers have resorted to requesting home deliveries, buying drugs in bulk and ordering medication online to avoid visiting pharmacies.
Job cuts and loss of income have also led to changes in customer spending behavior. Customers’ wallets are more constrained and Kenyan consumers are cutting their budgets to adapt. Telco customers, for instance, are switching to Whatsapp calls to cut their costs. Customers at various eateries are opting to cook at home to save money as well. “Only getting takeaways, and at times just opting not to order and instead purchase long lasting food like cereals because of the uncertainty of days to come.” One customer shared. Some insurance customers have failed to pay their insurance premiums due to loss of income. Narrating his ordeal one customer shared, “Due to corona outbreak I lost my job and I’m not able to pay my monthly contributions and therefore can’t access the services.” However, some customers are taking health insurance covers more seriously in order to be better prepared should they contract the virus.
Financial institutions such as banks and mobile money lenders have also had to make adjustments such as restructuring loans to cushion their customers from the effects of the pandemic. Lenders like Tala and Branch have shifted their focus from individual borrowers and are currently focused on giving loans to small businesses. Lenders have also laid out more stringent measures before customers can access loans including the introduction of new vetting criteria in the application process.
What is clear from the report is that in order for businesses to stay alive they will have to identify their customer needs quickly and adapt with speed during this time. While speaking at an Ajua webinar on leading a Customer Experience program in extreme circumstances, Richard Owen, Co-creator NPS, Founder OCX Cognition shared, “The right choices today are highly unlikely to be the right choices tomorrow. Success depends on recognizing the transitions and their timing.”
Ajua is Africa’s first Integrated Customer Experience company for businesses on the continent. We exist to bridge the gap between businesses and their customers. Ajua’s technology integrates with businesses at the points that matter most to their customers to measure and optimize their Customer Experience. Our plug and play platform has enabled leading brands of various sizes and industries on the continent to create actionable strategies that drive business growth.
Ajua officially rebranded from mSurvey on July 31st, 2019 to reflect our growth, ambition and African Identity in our corporate brand.