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E-commerce operators urged to improve customer experience

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Austin Okere


Unless, Ecommerce firms invest in their back end to grant buyers a satisfactory customers experience, the sector may continue to wan in comparison with global players.
This was the submission of the Founder, Computer Warehouse Group (CWG), Austin Okere, at the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) organised conference in Lagos, at the weekend.
 
Indeed, prior to the advent of e-commerce, customers enjoyed hospitality from the attendants when they purchased goods at the frontline.  This hospitality is reflected by e-commerce global players, who have imbibe this hospitality in their back end. However, analysts, claim this has been left negligent by the Nigerian e-commerce players and subsequently, led to a disparity in the impact of these technological firms which is reflected in them not listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE).
   
Speaking on the theme: Digital Payment: Prospects and challenges of a financially Inclusive Nigeria, Okere, an Enterpreneur in Residence, Columbia Business School, New York, noted that there are practically three ICT companies listed in the NSE whereas in other climes, technological companies are the most valuable, ‘‘when you compare ecommerce players ike Alibaba, Amazon to those in our country, you see them making a lot of turn-over and profit, unlike our own  ’efritin.com’ which has suspended service, ‘Konga’  is  struggling, and ‘Jumia is not expanding’.

“An oversight of this is the customer-experience, buyers purchase from other climes because they are assured of an adequate response when they receive a wrong or unsatisfactory good or require a refund. This has encouraged patronage. However, in Nigeria people are scared of being put into a loop to talk to an automated voice that proffer no solutions. Despite technology, customers still need to enjoy hospitality therefore, Ecommerce companies need to invest in the back –end, ensure it smiles at people, since customer experience has shifted there.’’
   
Speaking on financial inclusion, Okere highlighted that last mile challenges was limiting the unbanked into the financial system, ‘’I think we have made a lot of improvement in digitizing payment and transactions. Also, we are making banking convenient for our customers but the challenge is to go beyond those that are already bank customers to those that are not yet included, that is the last mile we are yet to surmount.’’

“Take the instance of the market woman, she is not poor, she is excluded because she does not have the time to go the bank so, we have to take the bank to her.

Now, when we talk about online products that when you want to become a customer, you will be requested to provide details like your Bank Verification Number (BVN) and so on which is assumed if you are a bank customer.

“How about the case that you are not a bank customer, we have to look for ways to modernize the social system we already have and create super agents that can do cash-in, cash-out. So, that when people do peer-to-peer transactions, they can approach their agent, who are trusted members if the society,” Okere stated.
 
He however, said the banks need to keep innovating, else they become obsolete like the post office. Okere said the banks need to ensure they have the infrastructure, the customers’ loyalty base to broaden their service and make it more cost effective. According to him, banks need to innovate with Fintech to prevent a dichotomy that can make them lose their customer base.



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