21st October 2004.
At MTN customers are not numbers

By Elizabeth Kameo

Six years ago when MTN launched its network in Uganda, it was introducing a relatively new concept. The challenge, says the company’s General Manager Customer Services, Ramsey Mosethedi, was to ensure the company does not put on market a product that is not understood and has no support.

Ramsey Mosethedi

That is where customer services came in, and six years down the road, MTN’s customer service department is propelling the company’s success.

“Customer services at MTN comprise two areas,” explains Mosethedi. “One is the service centre environment where we do face to face interactions with customers; we sell as well as educate customers on field inquiries on any of the MTN products and services. The other is the call centre, which is more of a reactive environment. What the call centre does is after sales support to our customers. We have a licence in Uganda for providing mobile and fixed line solutions and both our environments cater for both solutions.”

Mosethedi further explained: “From an internal view there were constraints and now we are finding ways and means of getting across those constraints so that we deliver effective service to our customers, and we have done a lot of changes in the last six months.”

He added: “We critically looked at our situation and all business requirements and one critical issue was how do we add value to our customers as MTN.”

To this end, MTN identifies and acknowledges customers who have faithfully supported the company and rewards them accordingly, but without disregarding all the others.

Away from the customers, Customer Services is also offering support to the dealers so that the MTN value for customers trickles down to the dealers.

According to Mosethedi, to support this, they have come up with a dealer help desk and are also looking at developing a separate online solution for them so that they can, via the web, interact with people at MTN.

The company is also looking at defining what the customer experience should be at all touch points within MTN. “We are embarking on an exercise to bring customer centricity within the organization. We are saying it is not only the Customer Services department responsibility and obligation to deliver customer services but it is everybody who works for MTN,” says Mosethedi.

This is aimed at ensuring first class service for all MTN customers. From the service centre point of view, Mosethedi says they are working on a triangular strategy where they will have a regional office in three key areas to switch the focus from Kampala alone. This will ensure that services offered at the main service centre are offered at the regional centres.

For now the company is planning to set up centres in Mbarara and Mbale, before venturing into other regions. Over the past few years the Customer Services centre has acquired different technologies, which are helping in evaluating calls to see if they are up to the set standards of the company’s customer care service.

The secret of MTN’s succesful customer service department, Mosethedi says, is in the commitment of MTN to good customer care.

“We make sure the working conditions are very condusive for people to look forward to working for MTN and committing to MTN values because you have to take care of your staff for them to deliver to your desired effect. So one, technology; two, the processes; equipments and staff wellbeing and environment are key,” says Mosethedi.

Mosethedi argues that the above attributes have given MTN a cutting edge as far as customer service goes. Next year, Mosethedi says, the company hopes to develop a comprehensive Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution for MTN Uganda.

“Many companies have attempted to implement CRM but because of the magnitude and complexity of the exercise a lot have failed. We have commissioned that exercise internally, we are going to be doing lot of Internet surveys so that as soon as we decide to implement CRM holistically we have all stakeholders’ requirements and concerns drawn and attended to,” he said.

“That is the focus and it will not only be in the context of the call centre, but from every customer touching point.” Mosethedi is aware of the benefit that the business gains from a successful customer care environment.

“The reason why we moved the service centre from here to Lugogo is because customers were complaining, each time a customer would walk in before they would present their problem they would complain about parking. We wanted to make it convenient for customers and Lugogo fit in well, as it is a convenient place. This came about through the feedback our people were getting that customers were complaining about parking,” he said.

MTN draws a lot of feedback through the service centres.
Moreover, the MTN Customer Services centre offers customer service in about eight Ugandan languages.

“From a call centre point of view, we have diversified in languages. We now serve in about eight languages. We have English, Luganda and the four Rs,” he said. Through our recruitment process, Mosethedi explained, “we identify areas where we need to capacitate.”

Over the past few years, the customer services department has grown to see the number of people in the call centre growing from 43 to 75 and this will further grow to handle the company’s new policy of providing a 24/7 customer service.

Mosethedi’s goal as general manager Customer Services, is to make MTN Uganda’s customer services department the leading customer services department not only in the industry in Uganda but within the group as well.