By Marko Reis, Regional Manager – East Africa at Infobip
With the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) ushering in a host of new technologies that are affecting the way people live, work and whilst disrupting businesses and sectors in every country across Africa. As a result, it also has a profound impact on the way in which businesses communicate with their customers.
Communication possibilities are bolstered by emerging technology breakthroughs in areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Augmented Reality (AR), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT) and even biometric verification – amongst others. Ultimately, these technologies are rapidly changing the way businesses communicate.
Further to this, many businesses are experimenting with AI and machine learning to boost customer service, and such technologies have the potential to enhance businesses communications through context and convenience. This makes proactive and high-quality customer service the new industry standard.
Where does Kenya fit into 4IR?
In East Africa, and Kenya specifically, there is a move towards data-driven communication, via messaging applications such as WhatsApp in addition to the potential for the uptake of ‘newer’ technologies such as Web-based Real Time Communication (Web-RTC). Even though the implementation of some of these technologies may be at their early stages, organisations need to look towards the channels as a means to boost communication with both B2B and B2C customers alike.
Many Kenyan organisations have large amounts of customer data and are trying to use it to enhance communication. However, these companies need to look towards utilising this data to its full potential in order to obtain real insight that will ultimately enhance the Customer Experience (CX) and the businesses bottom line. This means reviewing how customer segmentation is performed and breaking the proverbial silo.
Scraping the surface
In this sense, Kenya is only scraping the surface and organisations will need to do a lot more work if they want to leverage their data effectively. Once this is accomplished, companies will be able to take a personalised approach to target customers thereby using relevant information and offering them a tailored experience.
Connectivity is another key factor for opening new communication opportunities, whether it is via traditional telco platforms, such as SMS, USSD or voice, or whether over IP channels, such as WhatsApp, Facebook messenger or email, for example.
While Kenya boasts one of the highest Internet connectivity rates on the continent, with close to 90% of the population having access to the web, many companies still cling to the hype around these platforms. However, they do so rather than having substantial holistic solutions driven by scenarios that require information to be communicated to customers that is specifically relevant to them.
At the same time, 4IR is seeing an increasing drive towards less human interaction in customer service delivery, as technologies such as chatbots and AI can deliver a better customer experience. This is part of a holistic communication approach that resolves some of the pain points that many companies have – especially those operating large contact centres and spending significant amounts of money and resources to perform repetitive tasks.
4IR is upon us, and therefore technologies such as chatbots in addition to biometric verification, data consolidation and communication solutions should be a priority investment for organisations not only in Kenya but across Africa. These solutions and coupled with the right communication channel will not only help organisations become more cost-efficient. Chatbots in particular, will free up call centre agents to perform tasks that add value to the business, as well as enhance the customer experience, by providing specific information in a quicker manner for those seeking an end-to-end call centre solution.
Moreover, many start-ups in Kenya are trying to incorporate AI and machine learning as a component of the solutions they offer. Even though the technology may be in the initial phases, people are becoming more and more excited about this as the benefits of this technology make itself clear.
Emerging technologies can provide automated communication solutions that will allow organisations to focus on their core business. Moreover, these technologies can also remove the complexity and cost of relying on different suppliers and solution providers for different communication channels thereby readying the organisation for 4IR.
However, organisations need to employ a holistic approach to communication. In doing so, these organisations will stay ahead of the curve during the fourth industrial revolution. However, in order for companies to implement this approach effectively, they need to ensure that they work with a technology provider that understand the nuances of their business which requires the improvement of customer interactions on a continuous basis.