Africa is poised to leap forward, unencumbered by legacy technologies and processes, and empowered by youthful demographics
It’s time to reappraise Africa’s place in the global digital market. Long held back by affordability and availability issues, the advent of cheaper smartphones and ubiquitous, higher-capacity mobile networks have provided a huge springboard for growth. Young, internet-savvy Africans are optimistic and opportunistic about tech, utilizing it as a platform for their creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, and thirst for education.
Already the world leader in mobile money, Africa is poised to leap forward, unencumbered by legacy technologies and processes, and empowered by youthful demographics. The continent’s rapid transition to a mobile-first, digital economy means that it already has more smartphone users than North America, and by 2025 Sub-Saharan Africa will have 474 million internet users (39% of the population.
New demands on the network, new customer expectations
Whether it’s using their phones for banking, finding work, shopping, creating, listening to music, or watching their favourite shows, young Africans have moved far beyond their parents’ expectations of mobile services. While the future of the African mobile market may look rosy, it’s not without challenges. In the next few years, African operators will have to cope with onboarding large numbers of new customers and find cost-effective ways to support them while they transition from 3G to 4G, from feature phones to smartphones, and from simple to complex service offerings.
As if all of this were not enough, the expectations of African Gen Z customers are also rising rapidly. Like their social media friends worldwide, they expect high-quality, uninterrupted services backed by world-class, 24/7 customer support when things go wrong. If they don’t get it, they’re more willing than ever to simply walk away.
And this is precisely where African operators can benefit from the experience of other mobile-first markets, such as the Nordics. Operators in the Nordics have pioneered efficient and cost-effective digital customer care for years. Subtonomy’s customers can automate 75% of customer support in digital channels and increase contact centre efficiency to deliver 60% fewer escalations and 47% faster call handling.
With things moving so rapidly in Africa, it’s hard for operators to manage change cost-effectively or predict what their support operations will look like in a few years. Will future African customers have virtual reality-based support or get help via their digital assistants? Whatever happens, operators must squeeze the maximum value out of their existing equipment to keep costs down and reduce disruption while at the same time innovating their customer support offerings and preparing for what’s coming. Fortunately, there’s a win-win here as well.
“As the African mobile market matures, customers expect better support from operators. As researcher Herring Shava recently pointed out, two of the biggest causes of dissatisfaction with support are operators’ reliability (not doing things when they said they would) and responsiveness (not informing customers when they intend to fix problems),” says Subtonomy CEO Andreas Jörbeck.
“We’re proud to have helped our clients fix both these issues in the Nordics and look forward to helping African operators revolutionize how they support their customers in the future – giving them both happier customers and a competitive edge.”