May 19, 2020

Golden investment opportunity

African Business
Bizclik Editor
4 min
Golden investment opportunity

Africa is a continent of a billion souls, so it’s not far behind India and China. It is a lot larger than either though, and while those are single political entities, Africa contains 54 states all at very different stages of development. It’s a common mistake to treat ‘Africa’ as if it were homogenous. It presents to investors a huge and undeveloped market sitting on greater mineral resources than anywhere else in the world.
It isn’t helpful to pay much attention to recent history when approaching African markets. While it is true that colonial influences are still strong in terms of language and governmental structures, the development resources that have come in from America and China leave little more than sentiment working on the side of the European powers that until recently enjoyed exclusive trading rights.
Peter Walker, Chairman of the Nigeria British Chamber of Commerce UK Network knows just how competitive things have become in West Africa, but he thinks western investors are missing the point. “Over the next five years I would expect more focus on African generated activity and investment, based on the development of those internal markets.” That activity will come from regional initiatives that are pulling neighboring countries into formidable trading blocs, he believes: “The Kenyan Deputy Prime Minister pointed out to me recently that we need to think of Nairobi as the commercial center for 60 million East Africans.”
Inter-governmental free trade areas, like the 15-nation ECOWAS in the west, the East African Community and COMESA in the east, and SADC also representing 15 countries in the south, are taking steps to bring about free trade and promote economic integration across industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, commerce, monetary and finance. These regional groupings are going to have enormous influence in changing the direction of investment flows, says Walker.
South Africa’s labor costs may no longer be low enough for Caterpillar, but it continues to attract investment because of its vast reserves of minerals. Global companies like BHP Billiton (which employs 12,000 people in South Africa) continue to commit billions of dollars annually to exploration projects. However, investing in Africa is not without risk says John Notman-Watt, MD of Stewart Group, which provides analytical services to majors like Billiton: “Uncertain judicial climates enhance the potential that assets may be nationalized. Sometimes strong feelings about natural resources belonging to the country’s citizens influence political direction.”
Less certain is South Africa’s future as a destination for business process outsourcing (BPO) operations. According to Jim Kleyn, outsourcing vice president at Capgemini, “the value proposition especially for North American and European companies has been diluted thanks to the strength of the Rand and rising wages”. He sees the less complex call center work shifting back to India, with South Africa taking the more complex stuff like SAP and cloud computing, as well as niche services to support the ever-buoyant mining sector.
By contrast, the arrival of Seacom’s fiber optic cable in Mombasa last July boosted Kenya’s bandwidth supply by 700, Mozambique’s by 850 and Tanzania’s by 1,000 percent. The Kenyan Government has invested heavily in attracting and developing ICT and technology enabled businesses. The sector has increased up to 20-fold since 2000, and the bandwidth capacity allows East Africa to compete with India for offshoring.
Kleyn sees Egypt as a potential location for growth in BPO offshoring in the near future. One should remember that Egypt and its Maghreb neighbors also think of themselves as African not Arabian, says Walker. The Mediterranean countries of Africa have the added advantage of their proximity to Europe.
Walker goes on to point out that the present governor of Nigeria’s Kano State Malam Ibrahim Shekarau is keen to establish Kano as the ICT hub for Nigeria. “He has a clear intention to attract technology-based industries to fill the under-used facilities he has available and is providing reliable energy resources to underpin that.” In Nigeria, dynamic state governors with power to raise capital through bond issues are finally making the economy buzz.
Technology and telecoms will undoubtedly grow fast across all African markets, and attract venture capital. The global mining and energy companies will continue to develop projects, and tourism will move into the more stable areas across the continent. But the clearest message from everyone we spoke to was to approach African markets, region by region, from the inside, and above all understand and respect the way your partners want to do business.

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Jun 12, 2021

Re-defining the economics of CX in the new customer journey

Roger Beadle, Co-founder & CEO...
6 min
Roger Beadle, CEO of Limitless looks at how CX can directly Influence revenue generation in streaming services

There’s no shortage of customer service channels for the enterprise to select from today. Regardless of the many new metrics that have emerged – such as customer success, or empathy – cost reduction is still a primary driver in selection criteria.

There are many articles dedicated to how companies can turn customer service and customer experience (CX) from a cost to a revenue centre. The problem is, if you stop there and don’t look beyond cost reduction, you’re limiting the scope for CX to become an even bigger economic contributor in the enterprise.

There is every opportunity for customer service and CX to significantly influence the front end of business, particularly amongst direct-to-consumer subscription-based products and services, such as popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, as well as sports subscription services like DAZN.

In these products and services and others, there are new customer journeys that may drive business growth and revenue. They start earlier and may last a lifetime, so getting things right at the start of the journey is key so that customers have the best experience from day one.

Not only will this help in making customers less likely to reach out for issues-based support further down the line, but these customers will be much less likely to churn, and much more likely to take up new services as they are offered throughout the lifetime journey.

So, what does the new customer journey look like for these services?

Opportunity waiting for the likes of Netflix & Disney

While consumers may have previously regarded customer service as a way to mitigate the inconveniences in their lives, the customer journey is expanding in scope every day. Today there are many more touchpoints available that put CX in a position to drive revenue.

For one-off purchases, traditional CX deployments have not changed significantly in the past few years. However, if you look at the change in the CX relationships we’re seeing with subscription-based products and services, particularly media-based streaming services, it’s clear that these companies lead what quickly become very multifaceted relationships with their customers. These have serious potential to evolve over time for increased economic benefit.

For any sort of subscription-based business, customer lifetime value is paramount, and the requirement to actively manage a continued positive customer experience is critical.

Every interaction is an opportunity, and every data point is a chance to offer more value. Introductory offers can convert to longtime customers. Longtime customers may take up opportunities to upgrade to more premium products or services. They may also appreciate incentives to invite family and friends to become customers. Consumers who like a particular service, for example, may appreciate a recommendation for another similar or complimentary service.

It all starts with customer interaction, and the customer experience journey becomes an opportunity to strategically affect the user base and resulting revenue - which is a far cry from the limitations of call center cost reduction or churn metrics.

How do companies support the new customer journey?

More and more, customers look at the new customer journey as engaging with brands as part of their lifestyles. Many companies are making brand ambassadors available before the traditional customer journey even starts, which is a marked change from a purely transactional relationship associated with a one-off purchase.

These ambassadors, who are often independent users of products or services, are providing trusted pre-sales advice, and that same trusted advice can also function to nurture the customer journey in a subscription-based relationship. Call it ‘GigCX’ or ‘crowdsourced customer service’ or even ‘peer-to-peer customer service’ - it doesn’t matter.

The key is in providing impartial, trusted advice from real users. Think about it: who would you rather get advice from? Someone who has used a product or service extensively, or someone who has been trained to provide customer service surrounding that product or service?

For services such as streaming media, advice from trusted experts with real product know-how could be invaluable. This may not be limited to technical issues, such as what to do when you can’t access your favourite show, or how to access services across various devices. It could be parents helping other parents who are concerned about how to restrict adult content from child viewers, or simply customers who have similar taste in programming who can comment on the benefits of upgraded or premium products. The point is, these experts are easily available at any touchpoint in the customer lifetime journey, creating more chances to add value.

It’s also about tipping customers from ‘passive’ to ‘promoter’ in the NPS scale. It’s an opportunity to turn neutral customers who may be vulnerable to competitive offerings into loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others, fuelling growth. It may ultimately help drive even further revenue by creating customers that are helping to sell the brand itself.

And, while chatbots and automation may play a key role, they are often not able to handle the more complex support needed in the new customer journey. Conversational AI is rarely as conversational as it claims to be, and in the new customer journey, most companies are finding that a mix of automation and people-centric service is an ideal way to nurture the many new touchpoints created.

It’s no longer about trying to replace human capital with automation: it’s about orchestrating a uniquely personalised CX, and proactively engaging during the customer lifecycle to enhance the experience, and to create more long-term value.

At the moment, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the power to affect the economics introduced by the new customer journey. We’ll no doubt see this evolve rapidly particularly amongst streaming companies as they use human-centric connections in CX to support the full potential of customer lifetime value.

About Roger Beadle
Roger Beadle is an entrepreneur and business leader who is reinventing how customer service is delivered via the gig economy. After establishing several businesses in the contact centre industry, Roger co-founded Limitless with Megan Neale in 2016. Limitless is a gig-economy platform that addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the contact center industry: low pay, high attrition and access to new talent. Previously, Roger and Megan helped to build one of the largest privately-owned outsourced contact center business in Europe, before selling the business to the global conglomerate Hinduja Group. Roger is an outspoken proponent of digital ethics, worker’s rights and the ‘good-gig:’ which encapsulates gig work for incremental pay versus full time work, skilled gig work, no unpaid time/downtime and zero expenses.

About Limitless
Named a Rising Star at Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 program, Limitless is a gig customer service platform, combining crowdsourcing and AI to help global businesses address their biggest customer service challenges – rising costs, increasing attrition, variability in demand and the need for diversity. Brands like Microsoft, Unilever, Daily Mail Group and Postmates are using Limitless’ SmartCrowdTM technology to connect with their most engaged customers, and reward them for providing on-demand customer service that can flex in line with demand. Limitless is one of the world’s first global tech platforms to introduce localised platform terms to protect the rights of its gigging workers. Backed by AlbionVC, Downing Ventures and Unilever Ventures, Limitless is empowering people worldwide to earn money for providing brilliant customer service for the brands they love.

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