By Hyther Nizam
In today’s hyperconnected world, a bad shopping experience can drive a potential consumer to a competitor. While product and pricing used to be sufficient to separate a business from its competitors, this is no longer the case. Today’s consumers place a premium on speed, convenience, and professional and friendly service.
According to a 2018 PwC survey, consumers are willing to pay a premium for an amazing customer experience, and disgruntled customers are much more inclined to transfer their business elsewhere than to seek to remedy a terrible experience.
When people talk about customer experience, they frequently refer to existing customers. After all, it is substantially easier to market new products and services to existing clients than it is to acquire new ones. This is not to say that businesses should focus exclusively on existing customers. It is important for business growth to gain new clients, and customer experience (CX) plays a critical part in this process.
Optimise experiences for repeat customers
Remember that CX encompasses the totality of a customer’s journey (or journeys) with a brand or business. That means organisations have to understand what a customer experiences, right from the moment they feel the need to purchase and notice available options, to the subsequent research they do, zero in on your product/service, and make their final buy.
Beyond this, organisations need equally to ensure that each part of the journey is optimised to draw in new customers and retain their loyalty post-purchase with a delightful after-sales experience that turns them into repeat customers.
A potential customer enters the experience economy the moment he/she feels a psychological need for a product/service and decides to act on it. For organisations, this is the first organic CX touch-point. In today’s digital world, this touch-point can take the form of online advertising, appealing SEO-optimised websites, video testimonials, live chat, and sign-up forms. It’s clear that a good CX begins with impact-driven content that helps prospects find their way to what you have to offer.
It’s additionally important to remember that, while we might once have thought of the customer journey as linear, it’s increasingly obvious that this is not the case. A potential customer may go on tangents, get distracted and take breaks, and change the channels they’re using for research or to sign up as a customer. Organisations have to be able to cater to this non-linear approach while providing a consistently good experience if they’re going to keep attracting new customers.
Consider the generational shift in CX plans
Organisations also need to be cognizant of the fact that there’s a generational shift when it comes to customer experience. A recent survey shows, for example, that 51% of the Gen Z respondents ranked social media presence as the second highest factor, after “providing superior product/service quality”, for brands to maintain relevance; on the other hand, only 13% of Baby Boomers listed social media presence; moreover, 78% of Gen Z buyers said they research or look at customer reviews most of the time before purchasing from a new brand. Gen Zs are also more likely to identify “not being able to find the information I need online” as one of the most egregious examples of bad customer experience. Younger customers are additionally more likely to use community forums, in-app messaging, and webchat.
It’s pivotal, therefore, for organisations to understand this generational shift and bake it into their CX strategies. This helps design a well-rounded approach that’s considerate of traditional practices but at the same time forward-looking, which ensures that organisations don’t get left behind. To achieve this balance, organisations should look to move towards a true omnichannel approach, which provides seamless, high-quality experiences within, between, and across channels.
Build exceptional digital experiences
Research from Gartner shows that today, nearly half of customers can’t tell the difference between most brands’ digital experiences (DX), and as a result, 58% of customers also believe that DX does not impact what they end up buying. However, according to Gartner, a course-changing DX can positively impact brand preference by 37% and behavioural advocacy by 54%.
Customers expect brands to meet them where they are and creating digital experiences enables businesses to engage with potential new customers in meaningful ways. Digital experiences can help companies stay ahead of their competition and thrive in an ever-changing environment by providing 24/7 customer service and support and tailored offerings and interactions.
Hyther Nizam is the President MEA, Zoho Corporation
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By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi
Even when it is a known fact that right from 1967, the nation, Nigeria suffered acute leadership challenges; yet, each passing day brings to mind reasons why the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration should apologize to Nigerians.
This present assertion is predicated on the fact that if what happened in the years preceding the current administration was a challenge to Nigeria and Nigerians, what is happening currently under the present administration is a crisis.
Aside from the fact that the administration has glaringly failed to implement pro-poor initiatives, this piece will site three recent concerns/examples.
First and very fundamental is the latest declaration/awareness by Prof. Oyedunni Sola Arulogun of the Department of Health Promotion and Education, University of Ibadan (UI) that Nigeria was boiling as virtually all citizens live in extreme poverty.
Going by media reports, the don, who spoke on the topic The invading force of science and technology and the complementary role of entrepreneurial education in the new world at the 4th matriculation ceremony of 156 students of Admiralty University of Nigeria (ADUN), Ibusa, near Asaba, Delta State, among other concerns explained that as of April 19, 2022, at 1:00 pm, the poverty index of Nigeria shows that 83,005,582 Nigerians (representing 39 per cent of the world) are currently living in extreme poverty with 53 per cent in rural areas of equal proportion of males and females.
She described the trend as a bad omen for a country like Nigeria and stressed that “by our economic planning, the target escape rate is 0.3 per minute but the reality is -3, hence the poverty rate is increasing in Nigeria on daily basis.”
Of course, looking at a similar report recently released by World Bank, it is evident in my view that the don, who expressed empathy on the plights of the poor and called on governments and other relevant bodies to take a drastic and rationale decision to jump out of the boiling water now that the strength and means are available at our fingertips to avoid hunger and war, has neither said something strange or new but only said it differently.
Titled A Better Future for All Nigerians: Nigeria Poverty Assessment 2022, the report represents the culmination of the World Bank’s engagement on poverty- and inequality-relevant data and analytics in Nigeria in the past two years.
It draws primarily on the 2018/19 Nigerian Living Standards Survey (NLSS), which provided Nigeria’s first official poverty numbers in almost a decade, as well as the Nigeria COVID-19 National Longitudinal Phone Survey (NLPS). These surveys were implemented by Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in collaboration with the World Bank.
According to the report, which brings together the latest evidence on the profile and drivers of poverty in Nigeria, as many as 4 of 10 Nigerians live below the national poverty line. Many Nigerians – especially in the country’s north – also lack education and access to basic infrastructures, such as electricity, safe drinking water, and improved sanitation.
The report further notes that jobs do not translate Nigerians’ hard work into an exit from poverty, as most workers are engaged in small-scale household farm and non-farm enterprises; just 17 per cent of Nigerian workers hold the wage jobs best able to lift people out of poverty.
Before the dust raised by the above comment could settle, another was up. This time around from the World Health Organization (WHO), which released during the celebration of the World Malaria Day (WMD), a day set aside to raise awareness of the mosquito-borne disease and examine efforts towards prevention, treatment, control and elimination of the illness and had as theme WMD 2022 Harness innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and save lives.
While calling for investments and innovation that will bring new vector control approaches, diagnostics, anti-malarial medicines and other tools to speed up the pace of progress against malaria, the WHO said something that will be a source of worry to all Nigerians of goodwill.
The WHO, in that report, stressed that; Four African countries accounted for just over half of all malaria deaths worldwide: Nigeria (31.9%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (13.2%), the United Republic of Tanzania (4.1%) and Mozambique (3.8%). The global body was particularly worried that despite efforts to contain malaria, Nigeria loses over $1.1 billion (N645.7 billion) yearly to prevention and treatment of the disease as well as other costs.
But if these two reported cases of economic hardship and ravaging malaria in the country are considered a challenge, the next report coming from UNICEF, another global body centred on a high degree of malnutrition in the country, should cause a dropping spirit among Nigerians with critical minds.
UNICEF, among other declarations, noted that about 14.5 million Nigerians suffer from acute food insecurity while about 12.5 million people are hungry. The figures indicated that Nigeria still remains off track in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2 of ensuring zero hunger.
The Nutrition Officer of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Nkeiruka Enwelum, who disclosed this at a media dialogue on ‘SDGs as Child Rights’ organised in collaboration with the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, in Enugu, said Nigeria ranks number one in Africa and second in the world in terms of the number of children malnourished, adding that about 35 million children in the country under the age of five were malnourished.
Enwelum noted that 3.3 million child deaths annually were attributed to malnutrition, stressing that poor nutrition in the first 1000 days from the conception of a child to two years of age results in permanent damage.
“Nutrition situation in Nigeria is worrisome and requires strategic action. The burden of malnutrition is extremely high in the Northwest and Northeast. Failure to prevent and treat malnutrition can result in long term cognitive and growth impacts, loss of income for households and up to 15 per cent GDP loss for Nigeria, increased morbidity and potential death.”
While this development remains a pain deepened by the fact that they were avoidable, this piece holds the opinion that there is no end in sight to such ugly occurrences and reports particularly as the running of our country’s economy continues to go against the provisions of our constitution which stipulates forcefully that the commanding heights of the economy must not be concentrated in the hands of few people.
The continuous takeover of national assets through dubious (privatization) programs by politicians and their collaborators is deplorable and clearly against the people of Nigeria. The attempt to disengage governance from public sector control of the economy has only played into the hands of private profiteers of goods and services to the detriment of the Nigerian people.
Finally, from the above, it is clear that much needs to be done to help lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty, including boosting health and education, bolstering productive jobs, and expanding social protection.
To use the words of the World Bank in the cited report, achieving this purpose will require at least three types of deep, long-term reforms to foster and sustain pro-poor growth and raise Nigerians out of poverty.
These include (1) macroeconomic reforms (including fiscal, trade, and exchange rate policy); (2) policies to boost the productivity of the farm and non-farm household enterprises; and (3) improving access to electricity, water, and sanitation while bolstering information and communication technologies.
These reforms together could help diversify the economy, invigorate structural transformation, create good, productive jobs, and support social protection programs as well as other redistributive government policies.
The report emphasizes that these reforms are urgent as Nigeria’s population continues to grow; now is the time to ensure that the country seizes the promise of its young people for economic prosperity. It adds that shaping the specifics of Nigeria’s poverty-reducing policies will depend strongly on redoubling efforts to gather and analyse data regularly.
This holds the opinion that President Buhari must do something theatrical to save Nigeria and Nigerians from these troubles. He must do this not for political reason(s) but for the survival of our democracy!
Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org/08032725374
E-commerce platforms like Jumia and fintech companies have brought a new dynamic to everyday living in Northern Nigeria. Individuals, households, small enterprises, and huge corporations are increasingly turning to the internet for a variety of transactions.
More importantly, Jumia and other partners’ dedication to opening the digital space in the northern states has resulted in increased awareness and knowledge of the enormous capabilities and benefits of e-commerce. E-commerce platforms, in particular, have accelerated digitisation in the north by eliminating barriers to entry such as scepticism, lack of confidence, and concerns about data security breaches, among others.
Nano Strix, a 3PL logistics company, based in Abuja and several FMCG companies are among small and large corporations leveraging e-commerce to create and increase opportunities in the northern part of Nigeria and elsewhere. Through its partnership with Jumia launched in 2015, the company provides third-party logistics services and is the first logistics hub for Jumia in Northern Nigeria.
According to Nano Strix CEO Mohammed Maikudi, as the pioneer e-Commerce platform in Northern Nigeria, the company has been able to push over from the initial low user adoption occasioned by people’s lack of trust and fear of the safety of putting their debit cards online.
“Over time, Jumia has built a name for itself where we now see a more positive trajectory in the industry. People are now more trusting of the services Jumia offers, putting their credit cards or debit cards online ordering items without the fear of being stuck with something they don’t like or expect,” he said.
Maikudi further enthused, “Our package volumes have started to increase over time, allowing us to employ more staff, provide more benefits to our staff and bring them into the fold. For example, our volume has increased to a point where we allow staff to bring into our 3PL fleet, so everyone benefits.”
Furthermore, Jumia’s partnership with Unilever for last-mile logistics is accelerating e-commerce adoption in Northern Nigeria. The strategic partnership enables Unilever to improve turnaround time for consumers in Northern Nigeria’s vast geographic area, allowing them to obtain items more quickly.
The consumer goods company benefits from Jumia’s extensive logistics network by optimizing network scale, delivery speed, and seamless customer experience. Commenting on the partnership, Unilever Nigeria Logistics Manager, Supply Chain Operations, Jeremiah Aloko, said the strategic partnership with Jumia Nigeria has significantly impacted top tier services in Northern Nigeria. During the presentation of Unilever Nigeria’s Best Logistics Partner award to Jumia, he said, “We are impressed with Jumia’s high quality of work in the context of an extremely challenging logistics environment in Africa.”
As e-commerce grows in popularity in Nigerian cities, Jumia and others are fostering many small businesses and logistics companies to satisfy the increasing demands of sellers and buyers. In some Northern Nigerian cities like Kaduna, Kano, and Plateau, it is now common to see delivery vans and bikes delivering items to customers.
A Jumia partner and CEO of Brand Shop Prints, an Abuja-based ICT firm, Fortune Arinze, applauded the impact of the Jumia pick-up station on business growth. He acknowledged that the partnership has helped maintain cash inflow during printing business downtime and supported business expansion through ownership of bikes that deliver food on the Jumia platform.
“As an entrepreneur, the major aim is to make more revenue, and that’s what having a pick-up station in our office space does for me. The advantage we get from this pick-up station is constant turnover, which is what every business needs because, with our kind of business, it’s not every day that we receive new jobs or contracts from clients, but the Jumia pick-up station is a steady source of income. People pick up items every day, and we also deliver food every day. Jumia pays for each item picked up from the station,” he said.
The disruption caused by COVID-19 emphasizes the importance of e-commerce adoption in the north. Logistics gaps like transportation and warehousing, as well as the lack of physical stalls to sell during the lockdowns, would have spelt doom for small scale farmers if not for e-commerce platforms. While the lockdown was in effect, their produce, particularly groceries and other perishables, would not have made it to the public.
By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi
When Robert N. Bellah, an American sociologist and the Elliott Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, among other things argued that two of the most basic components of a good life are success in one’s work and the joy that comes from serving one’s community, noting that the two are so closely intertwined that a person cannot usually have one without having the other, he neither had Dr Samuel Orotm, the Governor of Benue state and the only Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governor from the North Central part of the country in mind nor the state itself.
But with the recent disclosure by the Chairman of Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC), Mr Tersoo Loko, at the commission’s headquarters in Makurdi, that the PDP cleared all the 23 local government areas at the just-concluded council polls held on Saturday in Benue State, and the joy that follows the announcement, it is not only evident that words of Robert N. Bellah has become words made flesh and now dwells among the people of the state.
Rather, the development glaringly exemplifies a vote of confidence and success in Governor Ortom’s ceaseless efforts to serve and save the state. It more than anything else showcases the joy that comes from serving one’s community dutifully.
There are indeed several reasons why this feat achieved by PDP of which Ortom is the leader elicits positive reactions/comments.
First and very important is the strategic position/role that local government as the third tier of government plays as the life wire of state of the federation.
Says a recent report, local governments and elections are two essential features of modern democracies. They help to establish, nurture and sustain democracy and democratic political culture. Elections provide the electorate with the power to freely participate in choosing their leaders and in providing the much-needed support and legitimacy to the state.
During the First Republic, the native authorities (as local governments were then called) were under the control of the regional governments. The Constitution of the Second Republic (1979-1983) gave state governors the power to dissolve local councils and appoint Caretaker Committees to run the affairs of local councils.
Today, ‘the 1999 Constitution currently being operated empowers state governors to appoint chairpersons of State Independent Electoral Commissions, the electoral umpires mandated to conduct local government elections in the 36 states of the federation.
As the situation stands, there is some ambiguity as to whether the state governors can dissolve local councils before elections are conducted at the expiration of their tenure, but often, state governors capitalise on this ambiguity to dissolve local councils at the end of their tenure and appoint Caretaker Committees. Often, these Committees are staffed with cronies and party sympathisers’.
Despite these constitutional loopholes, Ortom, unlike his counterparts neither dissolved local councils nor appointed Caretaker Committees as witnessed in some states such as; Anambra State where Caretaker Committees took charge of local council affairs for about 10 years under four successive governors – Chris Ngige, Peter Obi, Andy Uba and Virginia Etiaba and again Peter Obi who towards the end of his administration organized election on January 11, 2014. Those elected have since vacated their positions in 2016. As of the time of filing this report, no local council elections have been held in the state since the dissolution under Governor Willy Obiano’s led administration.
From this latest development flow so many observations.
The Benue State governor has confirmed as true my earlier position in a similar piece Ortom; Between Leadership and Demagoguery that Ortom remains an authentic leader who daily demonstrates a passion for his purpose, practices leadership values consistently led and protected the people of Benue State with his heart as well as his head, established long-term relationship with his people/followers and have the self-discipline to get results.
That he is not among the public office holders in the country who do not have the interest of the people at heart or contemplate providing security and a robust economy which are the two major responsibilities of any democratically elected government. He is not engrossed with holding on to the people’s commonwealth. And most importantly, he is in no way reputed for using people to further his own ends, via; intimidation, being sly, getting things done by lying or other dishonest means.
In truth, the name Ortom now means different things to different people.
For other state Governors, the lesson Ortom is handing down to his contemporary is that bearing the tag Excellency does not confer excellence or greatness to anyone, but requires hard work for excellence to be outstanding, demands consistency for a star to shine, and persistence for stardom to be recognized. In the same vein, while Nigerian youths, presently see him as a leader that they can trust and look up to emulate, that the virtue which makes up values are the things we must exhibit in our behaviour, attitudes/character such as; love, discipline, tolerance, respect for human life, peace, non-violence, honesty, integrity, loyalty, fairness, fidelity and other ethical values that promote mutual co-existence, the people of Benue State on their parts, views him as a unifying factor; particularly now that he has a credible local council election in the state.
To some socio-political commentators, he is ‘Ortom the Tough’ known for speaking the truth about the true picture of the security situation to the government and recognising that sovereignty belongs to the people.
To this group, the Benue State Governor is someone who understands that ‘human relations must be encouraged in the right direction. That any act of negation or denial can lead society to anarchy, chaos and unwanted societal conflict which of course, would be detrimental to human peaceful co-existence’.
Finally, in my view, Ortom has validly proved that he is not among those voted to provide good and qualitative leadership; elected to bring the nation’s economy out of the woods and was chosen to bring democracy dividends to the people.
But instead of providing these responsibilities, they visited the masses with cluelessness and utopia. Instead of reviving the comatose economy, they threw it further down into recession and instead of bringing dividends of democracy, they democratized poverty, institutionalized unemployment and ‘governmentalized’ hopelessness and frustration.
Making this development worthwhile is the fact that he achieved this feat at a time in a country where constructive debate is often seen as unnecessary, messy and divisive, where the debate over differing political ideas and strategies is perceived as destructive to the nation’s interest.
Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He can be reached via email@example.com/08032725374
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