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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.


Anonymous said...

Customer service an issue here,what you exprienced I also went through the same treatment I went to apply for argency outlet I will not repeat the whole story but up to now Im still waiting.For Zap to compete Mpesa they should indeed stylup Lowering the rates alone it might not help to creat clientle but being confinient and standard customer care matters alot.

Anonymous said...

These Zain guys have a serious issue with handling customers. Their customer service reps mistreat their customers with no idea who they are dealing with. This should serve them right! They are really lousy.

Anonymous said...

I agree a 100 %.

Koinange branch is the most notorious.

I wanted to register int o their "Zap" at the time I went to replace my lst sim-card.

The guys asked for a copy of my ID.

They w'd not use their copier to do the copying but wanted me to do the copying elsewhere.

I walked away never to return.

You can imagine how much they have lost if this is the experience of many.

coldtusker said...

Sorry... I have had a great experience with the mobile customer service reps (710).

I am sure the forms are 'complex' coz of the CBK requirements but the rude CSRs? No way!!! That is WRONG...

Anonymous said...

if these guyz treat even would be dealers like dirt, they should be looking for another name change. i think they forget that successful companies invest a lot in people especially their customers.
i have just zapped my zain sim in the loo - am sure yu and orange also need to increase their numbers.

Anonymous said...

Zain Customer care @Koinange has always been atrocious, along with the customer care at the Sarit Centre branch. Problem is guys have complained about this for so long but no action seems to be taken.

I was once sat down for 30 min as the customer care lady argued with a client on whether Safaricom is indeed cheaper than Celtel (then). The other agents went out for lunch...

Sad, that even after numerous complaints they have never fixed the problems.

Anonymous said...

serial number is not 698
it is 678

Anonymous said...

I hear the British Council has fabulous "Face To Face with the customer" training....

Anonymous said...

I hear the British Council has fabulous "Face To Face with the customer" training....

N.W said...

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out why Zain is now BROKE and had to lay down 140 staff members yesterday. How can 1 company, a telecommunications company at that change its whole brand and name 3 times in less than 5 years! They can justify all they want that they are seeking a more uniform African Identity but who cares, I don't. Whether Kencell, Celtel or Zain, the customer only learns to associate the brand name with the service after they have received that service and right now, all I see is a company that is struggling to compete with Safcom(however expensive they are)and they do not have the fundamentals right. They forget that they are dealing with humans and not unintelligent Kenyans who can take crap from multinationals.

Anonymous said...

One word is enough for a wise man. I think I can compare Safaricom to a wise man

stephan said...

Spot on about Zain!I have experienced a similar ineptness at the Customer Care Centre(if thats what you'd call it) in Eldoret.The sheer contempt astounded me.So what happened?Here walk in and go to the desk and there is no one manning it.The guy at the Zap desk refers me to a chap at the back who is actually the only other employee on sight,a harasssed looking brown fellow.I patiently queue behind three other kenyans and when it gets to my turn,i explain my mission:i want to set up a Zap outlet in town.He refers me back to the main desk where there is now someone to see.So i tell him what it is i want.The first thing that strikes me is the way he looks me up and down like a thug in one of these popular RnB videos(sorry for the analogy but there is little else i could think of).Then he speaks.By now am silently fuming having lined up for at least 30 mins.An when his mouth lets forth he says "nikusaidiaje?" or "what can i do for you?"the contempt is infectious and very evident in his tone.I expalin myself and say what are the requirements.He rips a paper off a piece of scrap paper lying around and proceeds to expain.Now am a reasonably educated fella so as he writes them down in his fairly poor handwriting i interject on points so as to further illuminate what he is saying.And you know what he does?He says are you the one talking or me?Shock,Horror are now the only expressions on my face.Shock and mother of Horrors.When he is through i walk out with emotions bordering on rage.yes that is how a restrained person like myself.Felt like.
The moral of the story.(1)I am not a faceless customer Zain Kenya.If i ran a business like yours my customer would be one.yes one.John the barber,Florence the mama mboga,Peter the brain surgeon etc etc and i give them individual attention.(2)Produce a brochure for potential investors or at the very least get someone without hangups dealing with people.Ask me its all about relationships!!

EA292 said...

Thank you for highlighting what i consider absolute rot of customer regard in one of Kenya's most influential organizations. I say influential because things like telephony are highly instrumental to social function, and and at the far end can mean the difference between life and death.

I am a corporate customer, (>30 lines)and frequently have to deal with zain to get new lines, etc etc, and every time i have to interact with them in issues escalated to me, i dread the encounter. Either nobody seems to know exactly what they do there, or who does what you need, or even whether they offer the service!! Additionally, calls are dropped, people are rude,they all refuse to resolve issues on phone and insist on putting the issue on their helpdesk system where several weeks later some nameless buffoon will email you a non-solution about the issue you gave up on and probably got a workaround like buying a competitor's line. Speaking about this makes me both bitter and gleeful. Bitter to know that in some cases i have no choice but to be with them since customers will call the damn published number on my letterhead and I cant move my business from zain tomorrow, and they know that; gleeful to know that its not gonna be long-treat your customers badly long enough, you will eventually get what's coming to you-they will leave you without telling you. I'm compiling a list of issues i have experienced with them to one day justify to myself a move all my voice and data lines to a more organized competitor!!

I know zain has been going through buyouts every time, and they are probably about to have another one, but no new owner should use this excuse. If i bought them ("#") Id completely exorcise the ghosts of bad service by completely restructuring their customer service, and arresting the runaway attitudes cultivated from their badly mutated/mutilated culture. Honestly I pity them -it cannot be easy to motivate such a band of disgruntled, harassed, unskilled, scared and crude employees.

Ah.. That feels better. But seriously, they'd better style the eff up.