By Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor
These are exciting times for Africa. With mobile phone usage in Sub-Sahara Africa reaching 44 percent in 2017, up from just 25 percent in 2010, and mobile broadband connections predicted to hit 87 percent in 2025, up from 38 percent in 2017, companies need to be open to an always-connected environment. This increasing accessibility is giving rise to several trends that businesses need to be aware of.
Africa is a mobile first continent, and products and services need to be tailored for a mobile user and provide a quality experience if businesses are to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Sadly, there are still too few companies in Nigeria that design the entire customer experience from this perspective.
For example, take a look at e-tailers like Konga, Jumia, and Kaymu – their offerings are mobile-first and all other platforms second. It’s not just a case of having a mobile-friendly Website though. Mobile needs to be at the forefront of business strategy and lead the way in all aspects of product development. Given the ongoing challenges many Nigerians face with expensive mobile data and limited connectivity in rural communities, companies need to be savvy and innovate to be more consumer-friendly.
Integrating the customer experience journey
Surprisingly, few businesses plan for the entire consumer journey. Etailers might put too much focus on purchases at the end of the journey, while more traditional companies invariably focus too much on general communication at the start of it.
Customers today expect a seamless experience, whether it’s from an etailer or a more traditional company. Organisations need to think more like their end-users and view the process from their perspective. Doing this will provide needed insight into what the customer experiences, and allow decision-makers to identify and fix those areas that cause the most friction and lead customers to move to competitors.
As part of this, companies need to make the transition between each step of the customer journey an intuitive one.
The importance of data
Something all organisations need to be aware of is the impact that the regulatory environment will have on business strategy. Regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation adopted by the European Union are being put in place all over the world to protect personal data. Companies must ensure that they store and use customer data in line with all compliance requirements.
While automation and machine learning might sound like something best left to large enterprises, these technologies can help processes run smoothly in any size business. By freeing employees from administrative-heavy tasks, companies can free their people up to focus on high value activities – like delivering great customer service.
A variety of tools and solutions are available, for a variety of budgets. Making use of these can help companies to integrate their marketing, product development, cost structures, and even skills development.
Already, automation and machine learning have entered the business mainstream and are starting to become indispensable tools for every company.
The traditional way of structuring businesses in silos that don’t communicate with each other is breaking down, and it’s a good thing. In today’s online world, businesses need to be able to make decisions fast and change things quickly – like processes that don’t work as expected. In order to do that, teams need to include people from marketing, sales, IT, and other areas of the business so that everyone has a view on what the company is aiming to achieve and what their role in the broader vision is.
Every employee must be focused on the consumer journey,which means everyone needs to be working to achieve the same key performance indicators. Smaller, faster, and more agile teams will become a business reality and will provide the business with a flexible way of adapting to the increasingly fickle expectations of customers.
Digital is fast becoming integral to the success of any business, irrespective of what industry sector it is in.
In Nigeria, with our mobile-savvy population, organisations must embrace different ways of doing business than in the past. Technology offers a means for them to flexibly adapt to customer demands, become more customer-focussed and do great things.
* Ehimuan-Chiazor is Country Director, Google Nigeria