ADAPTING

Customer experience affected due to the Coronavirus pandemic-report

Many customers complained about dormant online customer care platforms and poor online customer service as firms seek to social distance

In Summary
  • Several businesses appeared to be taking measures to observe social distancing and ensure the health and safety of their employees.
  • More businesses are also encouraging their customers to engage them through their call centers, social media and other online platforms.
One of many restaurants closed due to the coronavirus threat.Only takeout allowed by most hygienic eateries.
EMPTY EATERY: One of many restaurants closed due to the coronavirus threat.Only takeout allowed by most hygienic eateries.
Image: COURTESY

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to businesses but these challenges have presented opportunities to leverage and navigate through this uncertain time.

As a result, customer experience across different industries has been affected as revealed by Ajua’s Customer Loyalty Benchmark for Quarter 1 2020.

“The biggest strength humans have is the ability to adapt, things have changed, we need to adapt to new methods,” said Bitange Ndemo at an Ajua webinar.

Several businesses appeared to be taking measures to observe social distancing and ensure the health and safety of their employees by facilitating deliveries and takeaway services, encouraging cashless transactions, reducing physical paperwork, providing handwashing stations or sanitizers at strategic points within their premises.

Staff and customers alike were required to undergo temperature checks, sanitize and wear masks before being allowed entry into business premises.

More businesses are also encouraging their customers to engage them through their call centers, social media and other online platforms.

Many customers however complained about dormant online customer care platforms and poor online customer service according to the report.

Despite some of the measures taken by businesses to prevent the spread of the virus, customers are still generally avoiding crowded areas and questioning hygiene standards.

In restaurants for instance, many still fear that precautions are not considered when preparing food and prefer to prepare their own meals at home to save money as well while retail customers have also sought alternatives such as small local kiosks and online shopping to avoid crowded shops.

“We are only getting takeaways, and at times just opting not to order and instead purchase long lasting food like cereals because of the uncertainty of days to come,” One customer shared.

Government restrictions such as curfews and cessation of movement across counties has also brought about challenges, notably in the energy and insurance industries as motorists reported that due to limited movement.

They are delaying the renewal of their motor insurance opting them to fill their fuel tanks whenever they visit petrol stations to reduce the number of visits.

In the healthcare industry, Kenyans have grown increasingly hesitant to visit hospitals over fear of contracting the virus as most expressed concerns over whether their insurers will cover COVID-19 the report revealed.

Kenyans also reported that many private hospitals have suspended the use of NHIF insurance covers which has been an additional source of stress for many while social distancing measures compromised patients’ privacy in both hospitals and pharmacies.

Health workers and pharmacists need to be at least one meter away during consultation hence patients may have to shout.

However, some customers have resorted to requesting home deliveries, buying drugs in bulk and ordering medication online to avoid visiting pharmacies.

Job cuts and loss of income have also led to changes in customer spending behavior as customers’ wallets are more constrained and Kenyan consumers are cutting their budgets to adapt.

Telco customers, for instance, are switching to WhatsApp calls to cut their costs, the report said.

Some insurance customers have failed to pay their insurance premiums due to loss of income, narrating his ordeal one customer shared, “Due to corona outbreak I lost my job and I’m not able to pay my monthly contributions and therefore can’t access the services.”

However, some customers are taking health insurance covers more seriously in order to be better prepared should they contract the virus.

Financial institutions such as banks and mobile money lenders have also had to adjust by restructuring loans to cushion their customers from the effects of the pandemic.

Lenders like Tala and Branch have shifted their focus from individual borrowers and are currently focused on giving loans to small businesses.

In addition, lenders have also laid out more stringent measures before customers can access loans including the introduction of new vetting criteria in the application process.

“The right choices today are highly unlikely to be the right choices tomorrow. Success depends on recognizing the transitions and their timing.” Co-creator NPS and founder OCX Cognition Richard Owen said.