Good day, how may I help you?

Cactus is one of Zoona’s largest partners in Zambia. They have a little over 50 well located outlets spread throughout the country which offer complementary financial services on behalf of Zoona and Western Union. Whilst the latter focuses mainly on international transactions, Zoona concentrates mostly on domestic money transfers.

Cactus outlet at Ndola

Once a year, Cactus brings all their agents to Lusaka for a full day training that focuses on customer service. In my opinion, good customer care is crucial for any service company wanting to operate sustainably, especially in an increasingly competitive sector. A Global FinTech report, published by PWC in March 2016, argues that as people become more accustomed to the digital experience offered by Google, Amazon, Facebook, or Apple, they’ll expect the same level of customer experience from their financial services providers. I believe the same applies to Zambia.

However, from my personal experience, the customer service levels in Zambia do not seem to be on par with Western standards. It appears like the reasons behind bad customer service are hard to find, which is also recognized by the Consumer Unity and Trust Society International Lusaka, a consumer body working towards balancing the interest of both producers and consumer welfare in Zambia. They argue, in one of their early on-line posts, that a general absence of competition in some sectors and changing market conditions (more formally and privately owned businesses) over the past decades might have contributed to these lower standards.

Cactus counter at Ndola

Cactus educates their agents on customer service by presenting a program with different steps for executing a money transfer. It starts with something as simple as greeting the client. Even though this might seem obvious, I witnessed several occasions in which clients were ignored as they come up to the kiosk.

To me this behavior is contradictory. Even though Zoona and Cactus comply with high-tech standards, the quality of customer service is still very low. As more financial service providers enter the Zambian market, competitive advantages – such as high standards of customer care – will become increasingly relevant.

As of now, however, Zoona and Cactus still have the most efficient customer service in Zambia. But, as other companies and services mature and innovate they could progressively capture more market share from established parties like Zoona. High quality customer service to a certain extent seems to be a good defense tactic as it could positively differentiate Zoona from other providers. It is good to see that Cactus and Zoona are preparing themselves for a changing environment, but there is still a long way to go in terms of customer service. A big difference can easily be made by starting their client interactions with “Good day, how may I help you?”

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