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Creating the right customer experiences for African consumers

National Customer Service Week was established by the International Customer Service Association (ICSA) in 1984 and subsequently declared a national event by the U.S. Congress in 1992.

Today, businesses around the world celebrate this initiative to highlight the importance of cultivating customer loyalty through experiences. In celebration of National Customer Service Week from 7 – 11 October in Namibia, Lavinia Shikongo, Head: Customer Care and CX at MultiChoice Namibia reflects on the changing narrative of customer care in Africa. In the era of hyper-consumerism, African customers want more: better service, a better experience and a better connection. “The nature of customer service on the African continent is changing. Customers no longer want to be passive observers in a top-down approach to customer experiences, but central to these processes that engage them in their own language, within the context of their own cultures”, writes Lavinia Shikongo.

Multinationals around the world are increasingly looking to Africa and its largely unsaturated consumer markets for growth opportunities. However, it’s not uncommon to contact a global company with an office in Harare, Lusaka or Maputo, and find yourself speaking to a customer care consultant in Delhi or Manchester. Without doubt, a one-size-fits-all model does not work in Africa. Every country on the continent and within that, every region, has its own nuances that govern customer behaviour and the experiences that shape that behaviour. As such, African organisations need to embrace customisation and localisation. That is why MultiChoice is reshaping its business to revolutionise the African customer experience from the ground up.

As an organisation rooted in the African communities it serves, MultiChoice aims to truly connect with and engage its customers. Its inbound call centre staff, office employees, agents and installers are all drawn from local communities and have been empowered through skills development to fulfil their individual roles within the business. These employees understand the context within which MultiChoice customers are living. This forms the backbone of the organisation’s customer care focus, which is supported by cutting-edge customer relationship management software and systems that enable staff to quickly and easily process customer queries. Part of this focus includes customer satisfaction surveys, where MultiChoice customers are given the opportunity to have their voice heard. Concerns or problems raised through this channel are efficiently addressed through personal follow-up phone calls to immediately resolve the issue.

The MultiChoice customer experience is supported in a similar way, whether customers are exploring products and services, watching the content or paying for their packages, there are opportunities to engage the customer care team at every touchpoint. This progressive direction in customer care is one that MultiChoice Africa is pursuing across all markets in Southern Africa, and can be benchmarked against international standards. In contemporary Africa, creating the right customer experience is a responsibility for every employee at every touchpoint. As humans, we remember experiences, how we felt in certain situations. That is why we encourage our call centre agents to listen beyond the enquiry and understand our customers’ changing lives, the pressures they face and what matters most to them. We are committed to using these insights to put our customers at the heart of the decisions each of us makes every day… not just during National Customer Service Week!, Shikongo concludes.

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