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Technology

Safaricom, Equity among top global users of social media

Social media presents great marketing
Social media presents great marketing opportunities for businesses, besides building stronger relationships with customers online. PHOTO | FILE | FOTOSEARCH 

Kenya Power, Safaricom and Equity Bank have been ranked among top firms which use social media platforms to engage in customer relations management, a global study shows.

The three firms have been feted for using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to respond to consumers’ comments and questions in the year to December 2014, according to a report by Socialbakers, a Czech-based firm.

Socialbakers, a social marketing and analytics firm, tracks social media accounts of companies across the world to grade corporations based on the volume of queries handled, length of time it takes to answer, alacrity, tone of responses, and fraction of questions ignored.

Kenya Power is ranked the world’s most ‘‘socially devoted’’ industrial company after answering more than 15,000 queries posed by electricity consumers on Facebook last year.

Safaricom was named sixth in the telecommunications field, having tackled 26,288 questions through its Facebook accounts. Equity Bank finished at position 11 globally in the financial institutions category, losing its place as the world’s number one lender in using social media to power its customer relationship management (CRM).

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“We are delighted that over the course of 2014, Kenyan companies have continued their commitment to social customer care, we see this as a testament to the country’s outstanding innovation and adoption of new technology,” said Alexandra Banks, a spokesperson at Socialbakers.

The rankings only factored in the use of Facebook as a platform to carry out social CRM, though separate studies show Kenyan companies have also embraced Twitter to engage customers.

Globally, KLM is ranked the world’s most socially devoted company followed by three Bangladeshi telcos namely Robi Axiate, Grameenphone, Banglalink with Argentina’s Telecom Personal at position five, Indonesia’s Telkomsel at sixth and Safaricom is ranked seventh.

Kenya Power is ranked 65th globally and Equity Bank is at position 197 in the overall rankings.

The Socialbakers report shows Safaricom’s average response time to customer queries on social media was 17 minutes followed by Equity Bank (46 minutes) and Kenya Power ( 47 minutes).

Kenyan companies are increasingly taking to social media platforms to address customer care concerns and promote their corporate social responsibility projects.

Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter provide a cheaper and efficient medium of communication, especially for retail-focused companies that have a huge customer base such as banks, telcos and utility companies. Kenya’s total Internet users was recorded at 23.2 million as at September last year, meaning more than half of the population has access to online services, data from the Communications Authority of Kenya shows.

Safaricom reported a total of 3.1 million smartphones in its network in the half year to September 2014 compared to 400,000 in 2012, thanks to availability of low-cost smart handsets and declining data prices.

The uptake of Internet services has seen companies dump the traditional customer care model of call centres, which often had numbers that did not work or kept customers waiting for hours.

Brand affinity

Socialbakers reckons that maintaining strong customer service channels is crucial to business development, helping achieve brand affinity, customer loyalty, positive social word-of-mouth and interaction.

Safaricom has a verified Facebook account with 1.03 million ‘‘likes’’ where the mobile telephony firm addresses issues on network outages, queries on billing and concerns on premium rate service providers.

The Facebook page is titled ‘‘Safaricom Kenya Official’’ and was created on May 16, 2002. The mobile firm has two verified Twitter pages, @safaricom_Care which has 228,490 followers and @SafaricomLtd with 373,453 fans and also handles customer concerns.

“We use multiple channels to communicate with our customers and provide them with the best possible support. This includes voice, SMS, social media (Twitter and Facebook) and chat,” Safaricom says in its latest annual report.

Kenya Power runs an unverified Facebook account which was started on March 21, 2011 and so far has 217,414 likes. There is also another Facebook account titled ‘‘Kenya Power & Lighting Company (KPLC)’’ which has garnered 27,952 followers. It has multiple unconfirmed Twitter accounts namely @KenyaPower_Care with 225,863 followers and @KenyaPower with 3,454 followers.

The electricity retailer uses its social media accounts to notify customers about planned outages and address queries on power failures, matters on billing, top-ups via mobile money platforms and updates on connections to new applicants.

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