I have only been back home in Kenya for only ten days and I am already filled with a deluge of text messages from my dear telco Safaricom with messages on promotions that don’t serve me better as their esteemed customer. What struck me most and almost exhausted me was and is still the number of promotions that Safaricom incessantly keeps pushing to its Customers without any sort of accountability form their end.
Not to sound too critical on my end, without a doubt, I acknowledge that there are certainly individuals in the Kenyan demographic that get excited for such promotions. Some of them are freely willing to take part in them without question. It is also fundamental to acknowledge that some of these individuals are not aware of the implication are in participating in such promotions as un-harmful they look. However some are aware but they choose to engage anyway. The big question is, “does safaricom carry out enough in-depth research to understand their users in terms of demographics and who would be interested in such promos? “ There is a term called customer segmentation. I wish this could be applied to their research in promos as applied to their expansion methods rather than bombarding everyone with unnecessary messages.
The critics to this post would argue that there is indeed an option to opt out of the promotions but here is there is a caveat. As much as there is an option to opt out, it still does not make sense to me as user opting out after I have already been spammed with a deluge of text messages. Please note that these messages are geared towards supporting a certain product at my telco or prompting the need to buy more from the telco even when I have zero interest in whatever product they are rolling out.
Most users, myself included would at least require the courtesy of opting out before filling our phones with messages. Or are we all forgetting the cost with which these messages come at in terms of time? For those with relatively low cost phones with no extra internal memory, we have to keep deleting these unnecessary uninteresting messages to save space for loved ones or even business related text messaging space. But does our telco think about their esteemed customers fondly like that? Sadly nope!
It therefore comes with a shocker that my telco safaricom then abuses intensely the privilege of the fact that I and several others have constantly been their loyal customers. This sometimes makes me wonder if my data is secure and safe within their so called internal infrastructure or cloud infrastructure/ offsite infrastructure where their data is stored for the benefit.
A case in point is the Kochokocho promotion. First of all what a name? Second of all at what expense does it come with me keeping on Using or continue using a service from my telco which is overpriced with the promise of me winning a certain price in future? Is another betting avenue camouflaged within a telco? Another Key question to ask is if these promotions, tracing back to the past years have actually improved the lives of people.
Most Kenyans have developed the culture of betting and these promotions continuously propagated by my Telco are nothing better than the betting society we are seeing on the rise.
Analyzing the value and fairness of the promotions in-depth, we would be mostly interested to examine at close if for example the people who win these prizes genuine winners. But we are a society that makes noise for one or two days and move on the next thing. And this is not unique to Kenya but the world over. Questions such as the existence of a completely transparent mechanism to determine the winners without having bias should be the constant when it comes to such promotions. For example, if I was working for safaricom and I am in charge of the infrastructure responsible for determining winners, what stops me from recruiting my relatives to bet or enter the draw as much as possible in-order to meet the requirements and later on for me to get a share of the promotional price? This is critical to think about given the number people that have voiced discontent over the past promotions and the legitimacy. This has been happening through social media platforms, televisions and even over the radios and all other necessary media people have been given a platform on. The truth is, we keep rewarding the culture of impunity over legitimacy hence creating the mentality of entitlement and lack of accountability.
That in itself echo’s clearly on the culture of betting and how individuals in the country have become heavily reliant on them , losing their livelihoods and man hours of the day trying to spend money they would never recover back within a week of even months.
Statistically, Safaricom gains 100 fold or even more, by people taking chances on using one single promotion with the hope of being the winner in the long run. Obviously those who understand this concept will not attempt to participate in these hogwash promotions. In most cases, most people like myself, opt out as soon as we see the text messages or not engaging at all. However our phones keep getting bombarded with absolutely unnecessary non-educative information to our already overwhelmed devices. I would rather get useful information than promotional information geared towards making me buy more at the expense of my livelihood.
Next steps and suggestions
We all need to hold Safaricom accountable to these promotions if we are a society that cares about the kind of society we want to be a part of as well as the altruism of organizations serving us. If we analyze deeply, we will notice that most people engaging in these promotions are uninformed on the implications in terms of the amount of amount they spend trying to win a promotion versus the returns on investments. We however still have the informed unemployed youth, who use this as a mechanism to help themselves at least win something for themselves which in most cases ends up in frustration. Please note that I am not criticizing people engaging in these promotions but informing the masses that there is a lot lost than gained in engaging in these promotions. For example as earlier mentioned, financially no one has genuinely analyzed the cost if implication on the consumer side compared to what the Giant telco makes off of its consumers. The well lost man hours which could be spent looking for a job or teaching themselves a skill in those hours spent making Safaricom richer by the minute or even second.
We need to do better for ourselves and hold accountable to the last mile, organizations that are scavenging on their consumers in the name of promotions as a way of Marketing. Most Importantly safaricom needs to do better in providing avenues to improving the lives of more people rather than swindling them by having non-informative and self-destructing promotions embedded in all our texts without consent.