As it appeared in the Daily Nation May 15th, 2018
Last week, Safaricom announced its results for the full year ending March 2018. The results included total revenues that were unheard of in Kenya’s corporate history. In 2008 when the company held its initial public offering, not many of us would have expected that it would be a 234 Billion company 10 years after. Safaricom customer numbers have also grown immensely; the company reported that as at 31 March 2018 it had 29.57 Million customers using its products and services. How can Safaricom’s performance be viewed from the customers’ perspective?
Several factors have contributed to the company’s continued impressive performance. I believe that amongst these factors is the company’s focus on the customer. Putting the customer first has been one of the company’s strategic pillars. I am one of the 29.57 Million Safaricom customers and I can attest to the fact that Safaricom is working hard to put the customer first. As a result, the company is way above many others in building a loyal customer base. As loyal customers, we are getting our young ones a Safaricom line and many existing customers cannot wait for Safaricom fibre to be in their neighbourhoods. Loyalty has given the company an edge. Its’ customers continue to spend heavily on its wide range of products and services.
As a Safaricom customer, there are several things I love about Safaricom but there are also those I detest. Let me start with what I detest. The thing I detest the most about Safaricom is that if my mother borrows Ksh 100 in airtime “okoa jahazi” and pays it in just 30 minutes she will have paid a 10% advance fee. Computed on an annual basis, such interest rates are humongous. Who charges such interest rates in advance? Even shylocks do not charge that much. I consider this too high of an “interest” fee to be charged on borrowed airtime. In its effort to transform lives, the company must rethink the fee structures on such products.
On the other hand, my love for Safaricom as a customer resolves around the company’s overall customer experience. The future of customer experience is self-service and Safaricom had done exceptionally well in this area. Safaricom’s customers do not have to visit a care centre or even call in their millions. Even for those that call, their calls are always welcome. In addition, the Safaricom customer care centres provide one of the best experiences in this country. I believe that the company not only proactively collects customer feedback but also uses this feedback to keep getting better. These efforts can be tied to Safaricom’s chosen strategic positioning.
I recently looked through a write up on Safaricom’s 2017 strategy review. In addition to customer first, the company states that relevant products and services and operational excellence are its other strategic pillars. With this focus in mind, Safaricom is likely to continue on a positive tangent. However, this will depend on how tightly the company holds to its 29.57 Million customers and attract new ones. Some Kenyans say that Safaricom is a company that is loved and hated in equal measure. From a personal perspective, I believe there is much more love than hate for Kenya’s leading company.
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy