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Making a case for better customer data use in Kenya.

What a week! Its been a busy week with lots of meetings and all sorts of other things happening. I am really looking forward to the weekend! But, before I get there, I want to share a couple of interesting incidents that happened to me this week, which form the basis for this post.

The first incident involved me going to an express courier to send a document to an International destination. I had not used the said courier for probably as long as 5 years in a personal capacity. At sometime in the past, I had registered for their loyalty program for cash customers. Now, I had long lost their loyalty card for the same so they asked me for my first and last names. So, 5 years later, my details were still preserved in their databases. They were able to tell me the last time I transacted and how many points I had. I was a little astounded that they still had all of my information even though it was well over 5 years since I last interacted with them – I was impressed. Indeed, customer data does live on, even in Kenya.

The second incident involved going to a building I have not visited in few years for dinner. In this same building is a video library where I used to borrow movies every weekend, for a good number of years. Now, once again, its probably over 5 years since I used my account there and likewise I had long lost my membership card. However, I asked them to check for my membership details using my first and last name – well, voila! The details we’re still in their databases and better yet my account was still considered to be “active” – I could have borrowed a movie right there and then. They were even able to tell me the last movies I borrowed as well as the dates, and the “late” fee I was charged when I returned the movies.

As these two incidents illustrate, customer data is very much an area where businesses are paying attention to in Kenya. Using this customer data, even without a fully fledged Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, businesses in Kenya can retain customers and generate new business. However, its ironic in my case that none of these businesses ever called me or emailed me to find out why I had stopped using their services, even though they had this crucial data on me. What happened?! Is this to say that the data is simply for filing purposes and is not being used to enhance sales and service? Well, it would seem so in these two incidents. So, certainly, data for the sake of data is not enough for businesses in Kenya. Data needs to be leveraged as a strategic asset that can sustain and grow business for the long term.

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2 Comments

  1. February 22, 2011 at 1:31 am — Reply

    I totally agree with you Moses regarding Not utilizing the data that we have at our disposal. Having such key information is vital since it forms the basis for business opportunities which in can be tracked from prospects to opportunities upto the time a deal is closed. How can we use the data we have to leverage on new business opportunities. In our case, a fully fledged Customer Relationship Management Systems(CRM) coupled with Analytics and some Business Intelligence would be the way forward but without the resources especially financials, this wont be the most optimal thing. But, with simple reports and analytics and some follow up, would form “CUSTOMER INTIMACY” which then wows the customer and closing a deal from such customers even from a new opportunity point of view is very easy. Planning is also key analyzing this customer data.

    Additionally, I tend to look at this issue of not utilizing data that is exposed to us, from another angle. Let me call it “Valued partnership”. How many of us utilize the rich and vast network of people that we know and have to create opportunities? Take an example of Moses Kemibaro, he has reach network. Its true that from this, he can come up with innovative ideas and utilize this opportunities to sell the ideas to the network unlike in my case that means I start from scratch. The people we meet each day, can help us even boost our start-ups very easily.

    Allow me to digress a little bit on the subject. I would like to talk about Master Data Management(MDM) and especially from a Bank’s perspective. I have worked for a bank in the recent past and I have always been disappointed at the way data, essential customer data is handled without a consistent approach. Is it that we dont have governance,necessary instruments to correct this?Let me give you a good example. Walk into a banking hall, to open an account. You would like to consume additionally bank services such as ATM services, Mobile banking services, internet services,insurance services, CDS services etc. All these services most likely, sits on different systems, running on different platforms, using different communication protocols, and by far, from different vendors. You might end up subscribing to all these services running in different systems by providing customer details whereby there exists no one consistent master file holding the customer data. The core banking system might require all your 3 names, the ATM system might require 2 names, without the cellphone number etc.

    This implies that there is no consistent data source about the customer. This by far means that you cant experience customer intimacy since you can have a 360 degrees view of the customer. Assuming you were to analyze the different services or products that the consumer consumes, then you can tell if the customer might be profitable or even you can introduce another product which might make some value addition to the customer. Its also very easy to plugin some Analytics module which can do some intelligence analysis on the customer. This is what am calling a master data management. Its key since we exist in a world where we have alot of federated systems.

    MDM can be solved by having a one customer facing point of reference system such as CRM. This means that when when the customer changes some key information such as address or even cellphone number, then the cascaded contacts can be done onto the different downstream applications or systems. Another good system to have would be a middleware/SOA(Service Oriented Architecture) solution. This ensures that integration to the different systems is done seamlessly and additional systems acquired afterwards are just plugged in. The middleware/SOA ensures that communication happens independent of the implementation platform. Therefore one system can be accessing data that sits on another system abstractly.

    Its true that we have data but we dont utilize it to acquire new customer base even with simple analysis. The firms that have the resources to organize data in a consistent, non-duplicated manner are not doing it right also yet they have resources. Is it that we don’t have enough and experience Enterprise Solutions Architects? Is it that we dont appreciate the fact that in Technology, Change is the only constant?

    We can get more value for the data we have. That explains why such big companies such as Google values the information they have since its a jewel once utilized well.

  2. Winnie Nyarara
    February 25, 2011 at 12:38 am — Reply

    Moses,the info that you have shared is very essential, i will personal start utilising it.

    Thank you very much.

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