How Cool is This? SA Ahead of International Trends

How Cool is This? SA Ahead of International Trends


We aren’t always behind in international trends here in humble Southern Africa. This week, a major educational institution announced the end of its call centre service. Radio adverts drew attention to the change: only email and SMS would be used for students to communicate with their educators.

Why is this significant to the rest of us?

Quite simply because while the world migrates away from voice-based interactions and moves to the convenience of data, we are actually doing it in a material way ahead of the international trend, right here in Africa.

Will this have a negative impact on customer service?

Never! Think about it. Tech savvy companies already offer chat*, an online solution to the voice call. You log on to the normal web site, click on the chat button, type your message and an agent replies and assists you, in real time – no actual ‘voice’ talking required. By typing, your query is more clearly defined, the answer is to the point and there is a record. Currently, call centres record calls but they have the record. Here the customer has their own version of the record.

This has to have a positive impact on customer service; no more ‘he said, she said’. If ‘chat’ is not available, then the email will correctly reflect the electronic conversation. Email is not as convenient as chat, which resides directly on the Internet site and can be engaged immediately with immediate constructive response. Internet ‘chat’ is being used in the most scientific of ways. There are global vendors of ‘chat’ services that interact with online shoppers. The service goal is simple: to increase the vendor’s online conversion rate.

So how does it work?

Well, imagine you’re on a website looking for a new mobile phone deal. As you enter the site, your details are credit scored in the background and an algorithm decides if you are worth chatting to based on what you could spend. A chat ‘box’ opens on screen and an agent starts the dialogue to assist you with the purchase. The vendor’s reason for using this service? To, get you to proceed through the checkout process. The result? A higher sales conversion rate, much higher, like a 25% increase in sales in the first three months.

So who pays for it?

This is the best part; the companies we assist in offering this service only charge the vendor a percentage in the increase in sales they experience from using the technology. It redefines the ‘putting your money where your mouth is’ adage.

So there it is, the educator I mentioned at the start has taken the first step in the right direction and is showing a lot of other businesses the way forward, possibly without even realising it’s role as a trend-setter. Where does your enterprise stand on the issue? Customer service is by and large an oxymoron. Why not change the preception, offer some real customer centric solutions to your customer base, while enticing the casual visitor?

We live in such exciting times. We are a generation who is witnessing the benefits of truly converged service offerings. The advent of social media allows us real time exposure to the world and all it happenings. To illustrate, if you open a twitter account and follow all the major news feeds, it’s not long before you find the world’s news broadcasters are actually sharing old news with you. If you don’t seriously consider what all this technology can do for you and your business, you will be left behind.

Converged services and how they impact on business, is another story for another time…

*To test the chat concept discussed above, go to and click on the chat button. This is South African-based and works in real-time. Would this service make sense on your website?

Howard Blake
Howard Blake founded the Blake Group of companies in 1990. Currently operating across Southern Africa, Mauritius, Europe and the US, the success of the Blake Group lies in the constant innovation of new services designed to add value to its clients’ brands and customer experience. Visit his website for more information.