They have the worst network and they are also the most expensive cell phone network in Kenya. BUT they STILL have the most customers… By far.
By how far?
To get the number of customers Safaricom has you would need to take the number of customers all their
rivals have, put them together and then multiply it many times adding a zero or two at the end. WOW!!
So obviously these guys know a thing or two about getting plenty of customers.
BUT the company is NOT going to roll over and give you all their secrets. Would they? So we have to dig very deep to find them.
The first big Safaricom get-customer secret that we will look at today is Automation. What is that? Well let me tell you what happened to me in my dealings with Safaricom and Airtel.
Airtel (at that time they called themselves Celtel) were the first mobile phone company in Kenya to provide Internet services. And they had an excellent deal where you paid something like 5,000 shillings a month for unlimited mbs the whole month. At the time I happened to be living outside Nairobi and so I
parked my car and grabbed a matatu and travelled for several hours to reach Nairobi. After the usual harrowing traffic jam experience of Nairobi I finally made it into the CBD exhausted only to discover that the only office in town that provided the service was right at the other end of town. Near where the
university of Nairobi is situated. So I walked and finally arrived at the office only to find it crowded with many customers.
Predictably I got on the wrong queue and when I reached the counter after 30 long minutes I was referred to yet another long queue. Hours later I had my new Celtel internet line. But I was told I would have to wait for a few hours for the line to be
And so finally at the end of a long expensive ordeal I had my internet and was happily working on my laptop using my Celtel (now airtel) modem.
When Safaricom entered the internet business months later, I ignored them and their heavy advertising. I was very happy with Celtel, thank you. I was vindicated when I discovered their very high prices.
But soon disaster struck. I was mugged and I lost my airtel phone with the special internet seam card. Just thinking of going all the way back to Nairobi to line up after long traffic jams gave me a headache. I knew Safaricom were much more expensive
than the Airtel deal I had going BUT I could not ignore how easy it was getting their internet. It was all online. All you had to do was dial
Their system was automated!!
Just think about it for a minute. Safaricom have always gone out of their way to automate all their services as far as possible. No employee(s) to pay at the end of the month or give you all kinds of headaches (meaning more profits). If you need Internet you just load credit into your line and dial *544# (even if it is 2am in the morning) and then you choose how many MBs you want. In seconds the transaction is over.
Many months later I was in Nairobi again and I decided that I had had enough of the higher Safaricom charges and so I went to Celtel (Airtel) only to be told that the service had been discontinued. I guess a lot of people lost their phones like I did, and also too many customers could not resist the convenience so much so that everybody moved to the more expensive Safaricom and Celtel were forced to shut down their much cheaper internet service.
Today, a few years later, many companies in Kenya already have an automated/online way of selling their products and services.