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WAYO: Using technology to collect customer feedback

Kenya , 02 Jun 2015

WAYO: Using technology to collect customer feedback

Feedback is a huge component for any company that is aiming to retain and gain customers. Sometimes the channels that are available for this are unstructured or costly, or do not churn out actionable analysis.

A local startup has started to bridge that gap for companies in Kenya. With a seed funding of US$10,000 from GrowthAfrica in Nairobi, WAYO has created a system that will help businesses collect feedback through USSD/SMS and web interface.

By placing feedback channel posters at the different service points on a company's premises, WAYO is able to collect immediate information and relay this to their client.

This service can be duplicated over several industry fronts including healthcare, banking, insurance, aviation and education.

"WAYO uses geo location mapping to help a client understand the reach uptake of their products or services and customer segmentation by capturing data on all interactions to identify patterns, trends, display service levels – through graphs and charts and analyse comments, depending on customer satisfaction, to insights into the voice of the customer," the company documents.

Their solutions have attracted clients such as Mater Hospital, Coca Cola and Java coffee outlet.

ITWeb Africa caught up with the CEO and Founder of WAYO, Ernest Makotsi, a former interactive designer at ScanGroup, one of the largest advertising agencies in East Africa, for his views on this space.

VINCENT MATINDE: What are some of the unique opportunities you've seen in this space?

ERNEST MAKOTSI: For businesses customer retention is key if they expect to sustain growth and development. Customer retention strategies will require timely actionable feedback data and what better way to collect this data than at the point of service.

This is supported by the fact that more and more businesses are operating with the philosophy of "Think With the Customer"... this led me to develop technology that allows businesses to engage with customers at the point of service. This helps to either quickly resolve issues or assess the impact of new processes, products and strategies within very short and quick feedback loops. In turn it enables them to retain customers at risk by adapting to their needs and expectations at the decisive moment.

VINCENT MATINDE: Why did you create WAYO?

ERNEST MAKOTSI: The idea was conceived during an experience I had in one of the major hospitals in Nairobi. I got a chance to relay my complaints directly to a customer service manager. After talking for a while he actually pointed out that despite having suggestion boxes and using social media, they still have a big problem when it comes to organising and acting on that data since it's usually unstructured or it isn't timely... and he told me they are looking for better ways to manage the process. That's how it begun.

VINCENT MATINDE: So exactly does the service work for your clients?

ERNEST MAKOTSI: We have a web based application that processes and relays data in real-time hosted accessed through the cloud. Our clients can log in either with a smart phone, tablet or a computer where they can continuously monitor customer feedback in form of graphs, charts and customer comments, as well as compare all branches and service points.

VINCENT MATINDE: How to do you get respondents to give their feedback?

ERNEST MAKOTSI: Our approach is to target customers at interaction points. We place a call to action in form of posters for physical spaces and animated banners for virtual spaces. Note this is only done at the point of service e.g. in lobbies, teller counters and online for those who have virtual spaces where customers get served.

What we have realised is that customers are more likely to give feedback at the point of service as opposed to contacting them at a later day after you serve them. Companies also have a chance to sort out issues immediately at that point to win back customer confidence and retain them. It also prevents a scenario where complaints spew over to social media.

VINCENT MATINDE: What initial hurdles did you face?

ERNEST MAKOTSI: Like many growth stage start-ups, our major challenges are capacity constraints, both technological and in human resources.

Larger organisations and public sector clients tend to have longer payment schedules and their needs usually require heavy investments which in turn affects our cash-flow position.

To a certain extent, we are exposed to cyber-security risks as our technology is cloud-based, but we understand those exposures better as we continue, therefore we have set up measure (online and offline) to secure data and continuously improve.

VINCENT MATINDE: How did working in advertising open your eyes to this avenue?

ERNEST MAKOTSI: Working in advertising was a big plus as I was able to gain a lot of experience working with leading brands which gave me a good understanding of the key things in delivering technology products, especially for mobile.

In addition to that, it gave me the ability to assess problems and create solutions on the fly. This skill was very important and it led to the creation of WAYO.

VINCENT MATINDE: Is the company planning to expand services beyond Kenya?

ERNEST MAKOTSI: Our clients can access our web version from anywhere in the world, for the next 3 -5 years we plan to establish key partnerships and presence across the continent.

Our core focus is helping brands understand the consumer in Africa. With WAYO's SMS, USSD and Web and the cloud technology we can collect actionable data and deliver local insights to international clients seeking a better understanding of African markets, like those with operations in Africa, or planning an entry into the continent.

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