Ikeja Electric, Nigeria’s largest power distribution company has unveiled a WhatsApp messaging solution, which offers real-time customers complaints resolution and 24-hour customer support service.
The IE WhatsApp Chatbot works like regular WhatsApp platform and enables seamless two-way communication between customer and the DisCo through the chat interface.
Ikeja Electric, while explaining the functionality, noted that through the dedicated WhatsApp Chatbot number 09088951626, customers can get their account details, check and pay bills, confirm payments, report faults, make complaints and request for prepaid meter.
In addition, customers can check supply availability, report case of energy theft or vandalism, request for new connection and get answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), among other services. Customers can also speak with Customer Care Representative via the IE WhatsApp Chatbot if required.
Speaking on the initiative, Head of Corporate Communications for Ikeja Electric, Felix Ofulue, explained that DisCo decision to deploy the service is part of its major push to deliver an optimum quality customer experience through technology.
According to him, this commitment continues to elicit a passion for service excellence and new thinking on how to empower lives and businesses across the IE network.
“IE as a business is following through with our digital transformation initiative to deliver optimal quality customer service using technology. WhatsApp on the other hand is a platform that has million of users and huge adoption for customer resolution. Our goal is to ensure that our customers are able to reach us on WhatsApp as an easy medium of communication and to ensure we meet our target of delivering excellent service”.
He pointed out that IE has over 800,000 customers within Lagos metropolis and as a business that understands consumer’s behaviour, motivations and needs, it has become imperative to introduce the WhatsApp channel to augment other existing customer touch points.
In his words: “Our vision is to be the provider of choice wherever energy is consumed, so we are focusing on a huge adoption of technology to achieve this. This is also in line with our mantra of ‘customer first, technology now’. At the same time, we realise that a lot of our customers use WhatsApp as a preferred means of communication, so it is an obvious choice to provide it as a channel for customers to reach us seamlessly and communicate with us whenever they choose.
The WhatsApp Chatbot, which will augment its existing customer touch points, is available to receive multiple queries and promptly respond with relevant information to various customers at same time. However, customers cannot call the number since it is only reachable through WhatsApp chat.
Ofulue said the introduction of the service will further optimize the Call Centre resources and also enhance customer experience as the solution is capable of personalizing conversations, this will in turn add to the value and quality of interaction.
The WhatsApp Chatbot is a product of a strategic relationship between IE and Infobip, a leading global cloud solutions provider. It is provisioned on a scalable digital cloud contact centre solution that enables businesses to deliver Omni-channel support for customers through a single interface for agents. Messaging services such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Live Chat, SMS and in-house Chabot can all be managed through the platform named Conversations.
COVID-19: Demand for Second Passport by High Net Worth Individuals Surges 50 Percent
The number of high net worth individuals looking for a second international passport in order to improve their global access rose by 50 percent year-on-year, according to the latest statement from the deVere Group.
The group said national lockdowns, borders and travel restrictions have helped boost enquiries for second passports, citizenships and overseas residencies this year.
deVere Group, an independent financial advisory firm, that manages over 100,000 clients globally said demand for its residency and citizen service skyrocketed in this highly unusual year.
Most of the enquiries were from high net worth individuals from the U.S., India, South Africa, Russia, the Middle East and East Asia “who are seeking alternative options in Europe and the Commonwealth.”
According to Nigel Green, the Founder and CEO of deVere Group, “Previously, a second passport, citizenship or residency were regarded by many as the ultimate luxury item; a status symbol like yachts, supercars and original artwork.
“While this still remains the case, there’s also been a shift due to the pandemic.
“Now, second citizenship or overseas residency are increasingly becoming not just a ‘nice to have accessory’ but a ‘must have.’
“Whether it be for personal reasons, such as to remain with loved ones overseas or be able to visit them, or for business reasons, a growing number of people are seeking ways to secure their freedom of movement as they have faced travel restrictions which are, typically, based on citizenship.”
He continues: “The pandemic has served as a major catalyst for demand which skyrocketed this year. It has focused minds to secure that second passport or elite residency.
“However, the appeal for is broader than just the global Covid-19 crisis.
“Increasingly people prefer the concept of being a global citizen, rather than being solely tied to the country of their birth.
“They too value the many associated benefits including visa-free travel, world-class education, optimal healthcare, political and economic stability, reduced tax liabilities and wider business and career opportunities.”
However, nations have different criteria for granting citizenship, including time spent in the country, the ability to prove the legal source of funds and zero criminal records.
For instance, Portugal’s residency program requires just two weeks every two years of residency to gain the benefits, including the right to live, work, study and open a business there, as well as travel across the 26 countries of Europe’s Schengen area.
“More and more nations are running citizenship-by-investment programs, in which applicants invest an amount of money in a sponsoring country typically in high-end, new-build real estate developments in exchange for permanent residency, citizenship, or both,” affirms James Minns, deVere’s Head of Residency & Citizenship.
“These programmes, which high-net-worth individuals regard as invaluable insurance, are typically based on property investments that start from 250,000 EUR.”
Nigel Green concludes: “These highly unusual times have fuelled the surge in demand for second passports.
“The pandemic has brought into sharp focus what really matters to people: family, freedom and security.”
Online Shopping Skyrockets Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic
Lagos, Tuesday 30 November 2020 – As we experience the first-ever Black Friday promotional phenomenon under lockdown, the dominance of online shopping platforms has become crystal clear.
To keep track of this development Nielsen Global Connect has conducted extensive research that includes an overarching view of the massive increase in online FMCG shopping and just how rapidly it evolved over the first six months of lockdown.
Nielsen Connect, Global Intelligence Unit, Executive Director Ailsa Wingfield comments; “Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, online FMCG shopping usage has advanced by up to five years in just six short months. As a result, there has been a rapid increase in online shopping and usage with new users, frequency and preference having skyrocketed.
Preference of online as the most-used channel has also more than doubled.
Evidence of this results from the Nielsen New Shopper Normal Study which was conducted in May 2020 allowing for powerful insight into the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown on consumers, during an unprecedented time in our history.
The Nielsen study found that in terms of new Nigerian FMCG online shoppers, 29% had never shopped online. Sixty-seven per cent recently shopped online during the past week and 12% shopped most often online during the past week versus only 7% pre COVID-19. In terms of Frequency, 23% said they shopped online multiple times a week and 44% shopped once a week.
The best of both worlds
Nielsen’s consumer and retail measurement evidence therefore clearly shows a massive and ongoing move to online, but it must be pointed out that this is not in isolation when considering the overall shopping journey. In Nigeria, two-thirds of consumers (67%) say they are now using both online and offline channels with fewer exclusive brick & mortar shoppers at 33%.
Wingfield elaborates; “Overall, consumers are shopping and buying in a mixed reality. In many instances, online shopping options are a new addition to their existing store repertoire but most consumers indicate that they will maintain a combination of online and offline – which will lead to the rise of more omnichannel shopping journeys and experiences.”
Interestingly, this adoption is even more pronounced for ‘Constrained Consumers’ – those who have been impacted by job/income loss. These consumers are less likely to be exclusive Brick & Mortar shoppers as Omni shopping is even more important to help them make better and more frugal choices.
Wingfield adds; “The challenge for retailers is that consumers want equivalent experiences regardless of the environment in which they shop. These are categorised by a seamless experience where the retailer’s online, and bricks and mortar offerings, are connected and offer a similar and familiar shopping experience.”
Still more work to be done
In terms of the remaining obstacles for retailers to overcome and where online needs to work harder, the biggest concern for Nigerian shoppers is delivery which has emerged as the most important factor to get right. 42% of Nigerian consumers stated they wanted same/next-day delivery while 21% said they don’t want to wait when there are no slots available.
When it comes to Price & Promo perceptions, 57% of respondents said online prices had increased, while 22% perceived less online promotion and 17% said online was more expensive. That said, online price perceptions are currently more favourable than offline (brick and mortar) perceptions. They may also improve even further, following the heavy push by retailers of online-only Black Friday and year end seasonal promotions.
Looking to the future
Looking at how consumers’ newfound relationship with online shopping will evolve, Wingfield comments; “We saw that ‘necessity catalysts’ such as safety and precaution considerations and the availability of products initially drew consumers online, but there are still several obstacles to overcome. To sustain online FMCG traction, retailers and brands will need to focus on how they can solve consumers’ changing needs by differentiating their offerings in the Omni shopping journey.”
She goes on to suggest; “They will need to solve for overall satisfaction and experiences in the areas of time, convenience, availability and value based on consumers’ altered circumstances to truly differentiate themselves.”
Rising Operating Costs, Exchange Rates, Service Charge Increased Airfares by 100%
Price of air tickets rose by 100 percent across several routes as rising operating costs, high foreign exchange and surged in service charge forced airline operators to raise airfares.
Airlines attributed the increase to a series of price adjustments and the introduction of new fees by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). According to them, airline firms were given special concessions, which will continue to push price up and could hit an average of N100,000 for even the Lagos/Abuja route.
Speaking on the situation, Captain Ado Sanusi, the Managing Director of Aero Contractors, said airline companies could not access forex at the official rate while the FAAN had upped its fees.
He said “We were buying dollars at N360 and it went to N380 but you can’t get it for less than N480.
“We are paying VAT at 7.5 per cent. We are paying 15 per cent duty on our spare parts. The boarding passes, we pay 15 per cent duty on it.
“The passenger service charge has increased by FAAN. So, don’t look at one component but look at the total reason for the increase.
“Yes, there is an increase in demand but it is caused by the lack of aircraft and this lack of aircraft is caused by unavailability of spare parts which is also caused by dollar scarcity.”
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