By Olufunmilayo Okubena
To a large extent, enhancing the customer experience (CX) has been a game of catch-up for most organisations in Ghana, until the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which significantly accelerated the uptake of digital channels by enterprises last year.
As the pandemic drove consumers to avoid traditional physical interaction with brands, so many corporates were forced to move their services and products online.
For example, many insurance companies that used third-party agents before the pandemic are now adopting digital channels at a significant rate. This is to allow customers to buy policies online, via Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) or through a mobile app or website.
Not only was the adoption of digital channels significantly accelerated, so was an investment in this space as many sectors in Ghana benefitted from this trend, especially in the healthcare sector.
People can now have an online consultation with their doctor, make an appointment or relate their symptoms, all without having to set foot inside a clinic. Additionally, people can now make an appointment online for the COVID-19 vaccination via a digital channel, before having to go in person to get the shot.
As such, there has been a significant rise in adoption, with many local companies looking to use channels such as WhatsApp for Business, Chatbots and Application Programming Interface (API) to link these to their existing backend infrastructure (call centres, websites, Mobile Apps etc.) to extend capabilities to not only engage with existing customers but also to onboard new ones digitally.
Huge WhatsApp Uptake
Among the many industry sectors that are looking to adopt digital channels – financial services, insurance, e-commerce, food and logistics – WhatsApp has seen a huge spike in uptake. Several banks have also started integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven chatbots that can handle natural language interaction and transacting.
Yet, the option to transfer the customer interaction to a live agent in case of a more complex engagement is ever-present.
Aside from WhatsApp, many of Ghana’s large enterprises are integrating chatbot solutions with social media messaging channels, making for an increasing prevalence in the use of chatbots for customer engagement in the country.
On the other hand, some organisations are still adopting two-way SMS and USSD codes to reach a demographic that prefers to stick to more traditional communication channels to obtain products and services.
However, banking institutions have been particularly active in their uptake of chatbot solutions that can be integrated into the existing communication platforms in their contact centres.
Contact centres no longer have to reside in a brick-and-mortar space but are moving to the cloud, allowing agents to reside and work from almost anywhere.
Despite a relatively slow and steady implementation across organisations, we are also increasingly seeing the adoption of omnichannel engagement models by local enterprises, and this has resulted in an enhanced CX.
This is because customers can interact with their brands via the channels of their choice, at a time and place when it is convenient for them. This readily translates into repeat business, brand loyalty and a positive impact on the organisation’s bottom line.
However, organisations that want to incorporate an omnichannel strategy should consult an experienced partner, while they remain focused on their core function.
A technology partner should be able to deliver the right solution, leverage technology and integrate systems that will provide the enterprise with a platform to offer services and products online. Local organisations must realise that the digital era has come and is here to stay.
So, for businesses to maintain relevance in this new normal they will need to hop on this digitisation train, sooner than later and leverage digital communication solutions to increase their reach and level of engagement with customers, ultimately improving CX.
Olufunmilayo Okubena, Country Manager at Infobip Ghana