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Friday, March 27, 2009

Slow uptake Zain's ZAP (mobile money transfer) may be due to careless Customer Service

This article includes one update as a footer.

Zain Kenya registered losses in the last financial year. The Kenyan operation has been the poorest compared to operations in other countries. Despite these losses and poor uptake of its highly subsidized products, Zain Kenya may fail to increase its market share owing to poor and careless handling of its customers.
Picture this, I bought a Zain line just the other day to take advantage of its new tariff "Vuka" that allows flat rate calls of between 3 and 8 shillings and offers a money transfer facility.

Yesterday evening (26th March 2009), I went to the company's Koinange street customer care outlet to register for ZAP money transfer services. (Koinange Street is in the Kenyan capital city, Nairobi)

The first lady I spoke to amused me, I told her that I wanted to register for ZAP, immediately her private mobile phone rung, she ignored me took her call - smiling and laughing loudly while at it - as she moved around the open room. After the call, she came back to her desk with me standing there, pulled out a book with application forms and told me to fill. The form had so many details from ID number to other irrelevant details that should be the least of their worry. Seriously why do they need to know my date and place of birth?

I finished filling with the lady staring at what I was writing (while on another personal call), then she asked for a copy of my ID which I produced. She then ushered me to the next counter and told me "Go pay 100 shillings so that I activate you account", I ask her why to which she answered “without the money, the system cannot work"

So I went to pay. I told the cashier that I had been told to pay 100 shillings. She looked at me and said "No it is 200"
I said "fine" and gave her a 200 bill. She took, picked another form and told me to fill in my details (again). I filled and returned to her.
She read through the document and said "OK, now add me 10 shillings as transactions fees"

I asked, why should I pay an additional 10 shillings when I am not transacting but just registering, she immediately turned --to show that I was wasting her time -- but not before hurling what I considered to be the ultimate insult. She told me to "Ishia" meaning "disappear from here"
I looked at her but said nothing. I went to the first customer care rep told her that I had changed my mind about registering for Zap and that she gives me back the copy of my ID. Then she asked "Do you also want to go with the registration form?"

I said "Yes please"

I took the form which had the serial number 203698. (Pictured)

The carbon print of this form remained at the Zain Centre with my full contacts.

The moral of the story, if Zain Kenya ever hopes to catch up with Safaricom, they had better style up. Better the devil you know than Zain with its lousy Zap!



Following this article, Zain's Branch manager at Koinange Street called me on Friday to apologize on behalf of the customer care reps. She has promised to "take stern action" and to "Train" her entire lot to develop customer-centric attitudes.

Apology accepted. Also please ensure that communication regarding Zain registration is clear especially the registration requirement - how much does one need to complete the registration process because it is not FREE as advertised in the media.

Since one has to leave a copy of their ID at registration, why cant Zain as a company retrieve the information such as ID number, date and place of birth from the the copy of ID without having to subject customers to unnecessary "torture" by "forcing" them to fill this themselves, then go out to photocopy their ID for you guys. You can use internal photocopiers to ease this burden on customers.

Lastly, read the comments by readers in this article and on some other online threads regarding Zain's level of service. It is very clear that a lot needs to be done. The general consensus is that you have great products but your people are failing you. As the adage goes, customer is king.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kenyan Blog Reveals identity of US Visa-Ban minister

A controversial Kenyan blog, today revealed the identity of a Kenyan minister who has been banned from ever setting foot in the US.

The blog describes the minister as "very upset" by the move because there are indications that his family members and business associates will also be affected.

When issuing the Visa ban notice earlier in the week, US ambassador to Kenya, Michael Rannebager declined to give the name of the minister in question.

The blog says that the decision to ban Agriculture minister William Ruto was reached after an investigation conducted by the FBI, whose content are still secret. "It is sad that the contents of that investigation are secret because it would have been of great interest to long-suffering Kenyans" Kumekucha says.

As controversial as Kumekucha has been in the past (or seem to be currently), the blog has on numerous occasions accurately provided reliable information unavailable in the mainstream media.

However Kumekucha does not state whether it independently verified the information about the identity of the minister issued with a visa ban - only dwelling on information provided by what the blog calls "My information".