Processes can protect but impede. You are like the self-serving Kenyan politician who will never be motivated to discuss public problems like access to medical care because he is immune to them, courtesy of his five star international medical insurance cover. You, just like him, don’t know the customer pain point.
Despite the pomp and noise, the problem with PesaLink is that “it is geared towards addressing a banking problem as opposed to customers’ problems. Most (innovative) products that succeeded (like M-Pesa) have had the Uber effect. They focused on the need to solve customers’ challenges.” (The Business Daily). And this is what I want to talk about today. How companies, looking inwards, incorporate processes that may be institution-friendly but customer-, and therefore sale-, unfriendly. Here are a few:
We don’t take Visa
I went shopping for airtime last week. Two middle- class targeting establishments later, I still didn’t have it yet they had it. Why? Because, “We don’t accept cards.” And it’s not just them; even some fuel stations are wont to declining card payments, missing out on sales worth thousands of shillings. Why don’t they accept cards? “We have had many cases of fraud and so we stopped accepting cards.” (Or, “We only accept card payments upwards of one thousand shillings.” Or, “It will cost you an extra 5%.”) Ok. And on I went to the next petrol station, just as I did outlet seeking airtime, and bought fuel (as I did airtime) with my Visa card. One wonders how one outlet can swear against the use of cards and its neighbouring competitor swears by them. Processes can protect but impede the sale.
Banks processes can protect but impede the sale
In most banks, the online customer interphase (what you see when you access your bank account online) differs significantly from what the bank staff use. It’s almost as different as day is from night. Customer facing staff use the bank’s core banking system, while yours is an internet inspired afterthought. That’s why when you call in to ask for help with yours they are stumped; so they quickly and nonchalantly transfer frustrated you to “someone in IT.” Banks struggling with this should include in their training how things look like from the customer’s perspective.
Executive immunity to processes that impede
As part of staff motivation and company image, most senior managers have post-paid company lines. This is not necessarily good if you are a telecommunications firm with over 95% of your subscribers on pre-paid lines. Why? Because when discussing strategy, you are flying blind. You are like the self-serving Kenyan politician who will never be motivated to discuss public problems like traffic congestion and access to medical care because he is immune to them, courtesy of his ten-guzzler, sirens- blaring, security-inundated motorcade and five star international medical insurance cover.
You, just like him, don’t know the customer pain point and will not understand the customer leakage (lost sales) when it starts. That could explain why one CEO ordered that all his executives switch to pre-paid lines; and why indefatigable Tanzanian President Magufuli decreed that everyone below deputy president travel kama mwananchi wa kawaida (like ‘normal’ citizens). As you can see, decision makers should be wary because processes can protect the company but impede the sale.
This is not to suggest that anything goes in making the internal processes customer friendly. Of course, not. That’s foolish. But so is making them buyer unfriendly. Wisdom needs to be exercised in making the sale customer friendly while still protecting the institution from gaping loopholes begging to be exploited by the unscrupulous customer.
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