Regardless of the South African Post Office’s four month strike coming to an end, organisations should step up their use of mobile communications to get their bills, statements and other vital communications to their customers.
That’s the word from Jacques Swanepoel, Managing Director at Cellfind. He says that delays in getting statements and bills to customers through the postal service have hit many South African businesses in the pockets and that it is time for organisations to look for alternatives to mail.
Says Swanepoel: “Even before the strike began, sending a statement through the post did not necessarily mean it would reach the intended recipient. What’s more, the costs of paper, printing and postage are constantly climbing. For these reasons, many organisations have been looking for electronic alternatives to the postal service – and this strike will hasten their migration to electronic channels.”
Swanepoel says that most companies have used email and the Web to reach high-LSM customers with bills and other communications for several years. The benefits include speeding up the payment cycle by getting the bill to the customer faster, taking paper costs out of the monthly statement run, and reducing the carbon footprint.
But most organisations still have many customers who do not have an email address or Web access. With low penetration of Internet-connected PCs in South Africa, the reach of email or online statements is limited. This is where mobile statements can fill the gap. Says Swanepoel: “At nearly 100% penetration of mobile phones in South Africa, mobile statements can reach everyone. Companies can use standard technologies such as USSD or SMS that are available on all cellphones, so customers don’t even need to have a smartphone to view their statements.”
“Mobile statements reach customers from a township dweller or a person living in a rural area, through to suburban South Africans. They’re ideal for reaching people who have no fixed address since most people will carry their cellphones with them wherever they go. Customers often forget to update their address details when they move. But most of them will keep their cellphone numbers constant.”
Even among customers with Internet access, mobile statements offer some advantages. Companies can easily track whether their statements have been delivered to a consumer’s handset or not. Customers cannot claim they did not get the bill, it got lost in the post or it didn’t get through to their email address. What’s more, it won’t get chewed up by a spam filter, says Swanepoel.
Bills can be dispatched on the same day they are compiled without the need for printing and postage delays – a big benefit to customers and companies alike since the statement the client receives, will be completely up to date, he adds.
Customers are able to access both current and historical statement data from their mobile phones at any time. This adds a level of ease and convenience to the relationship that improves customer satisfaction.
Says Swanepoel: “The postal strike has had a devastating impact on many South African organisations – from retailers to municipalities and telcos. Yet organisations do have affordable alternatives for getting important information into their customers’ hands on time.”
Cellfind (Pty) Ltd. is a leading mobile technology solutions company that provides tailored Location-based services, Aggregation solutions, Mobile Applications and Value Added Services to a wide range of clients in Southern Africa – www.cellfind.co.za / Twitter: @Cellfind
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