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OP-ED: Use Social Media and Digital Channels to Enhance Customer Experience During Lockdown

Entrepreneurs and businesses must embrace strategies such as enhancing customer experience via social media and digital channels during the lockdown.

We are back to lockdown and just like we saw in the first wave, businesses are now operating online. One thing Covid-19 has taught us is that the internet is no longer nice to have or a luxury but it is a necessity. The internet is the place where customers window shop, purchase, and air out views on products and services offered by companies. Make sure you have an online presence.

Unlike the earlier days where customers sneakily wrote their views on paper and dropped them into suggestion boxes hoping that no one would recognize their handwriting, today, customers take to social media to publicly appreciate and also vent their frustration.

The emergence of technology and social media has made the role of customer experience, even more, profound today. Customer experience is the perception that customers have based on their interaction with your business or product. Today, customers are more empowered. They know what they want and will not compromise. In part, it is because they have a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to product and service providers.

To keep your head above water in the sea of businesses, entrepreneurs must embrace strategies such as enhancing customer experience, especially via social media as the country strives to mitigate the spread of the virus during the lockdown.

Easy accessibility of services is a good place to start. Despite the limitation of movement, you need to ensure that there is uninterrupted service delivery especially if you are among the businesses allowed to operate during this period.

Aware of the vitality of easy accessibility of services to customers, using digital tools, MTN created the MyMTN app which among other things houses the telco’s different services under one roof.  One can buy all MTN products, get access to mobile money statements and even get help or log a complaint using the MyMTN App. This reduces the amount of time a customer spends while trying to access MTN services centers.

In addition, understanding how to use the new innovations or products is very critical to improving a customer’s experience. I advise that you create short videos that you can run on social media, showing customers how to use a new product or service. This helps to guide customers to understand and acquaint themselves with the workings of the new product, which will smoothen their experience when they get to use it.

In light of the harsh economic times occasioned by Covid-19, I am alive to the fact that many businesses are financially constrained and might not be able to do the above. But there are also ways of enhancing customers’ experience at a cheap cost to your business.

Personalizing customers’ experience is one of them. Wishing your seasoned customers a happy birthday is a sign that you value them. Make their milestones your milestones, recognize and celebrate with them even if virtually.

I am sure you all have received a birthday message from MTN once. This is a way of showing our customers that we care. This is a very key customer experience enhancement tool especially during this period; awash with sad news dampening moods of many.

Once only a chatting vessel, social media has morphed over time to become an official communication channel for businesses that breeds loyalty and efficiency.

It is important to engage with customers online by curating content specific to particular audiences. This can draw increased loyalty from them towards your product. This keeps you relevant. For instance, at MTN, a post about MTN Pulse or Ayoba, the MTN version of WhatsApp, will be written in the lingo used by the youth because they are predominantly youth-targeted services.

Engaging with customers through liking or commenting on their posts is also another way of enhancing customer experience as it strengthens the relationship and builds a strong attachment to the brand.

Arguably the most important aspect of social media is customer feedback. Whether positive or negative, feedback provides an understanding of the customers’ thoughts on the business’s products and services, “the good, the bad and the ugly”. Negative feedback is a contentious subject but at MTN, we believe a complaining customer is an alive customer. Work with them! Make the best out of bad reviews by addressing them while capitalizing and strengthening your preferred qualities.

The world today is fast-paced so there is an expectation from customers for an immediate response and handling complaints in under 24 hours. At MTN, we have a team dedicated to social media to provide quick responses to customers and escalate concerns to responsible parties in the company.

It also goes without saying that as a business, ensure you have trained your staff who interface with customers via social media. The way a business responds to customers via social media speaks to the value it attaches to them. Plus, when on social media, assume all eyes are on you because with only a click of a button, a conversation can become an issue of national interest. Avoid flaring of tempers and strive for professionalism.

Remember, customer experience management will save your business money in reduced marketing costs. Make your customers your marketers.

Editor’s Note: This article is written by Dorcas Muhwezi, MTN General Manager Customer Experience

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