By Dr. Ken Tarus
It is the dream of any business to sustain the highest level of service to delight its customers. Thus, the constant quest by organizations to deploy new strategies that ensure they remain market leaders by securing and increasing their customer base.
The decision to adopt new ways of increasing levels of satisfaction among customers is informed by changing operating environments, customer characteristics and needs among many other factors.
Therefore, constant innovation based on observed consumer trends is key in ensuring improved customer experiences. At Kenya Power, we apply the same principle.
The company has constantly sought to understand its customers better by taking into account their dynamics and emerging immediate needs even as it embraces technological innovations to enhance service delivery.
Kenya Power introduced the prepaid metering system in 2009 as one of the methods of retailing electricity.
The number of customers on the prepaid platform has grown over the years to the current 4.5 million. Consequently, the company has constantly pursued ways of ensuring that the prepaid service is efficient and that it offers the targeted convenience to customers.
These include: establishment of mobile money platforms, point of sale kiosks and recruitment of vendors to offer multiple channels for purchase and delivery of electricity tokens.
Kenya Power currently has contracts with more than fifteen vendors supporting the prepaid system, in addition to the company’s operated paybill numbers 888880 and 888888 for prepaid and postpaid services respectively.
Internally generated statistics indicate that mobile money accounts for about 86% of all payments for electricity. The company’s total customer base has grown tremendously in the last five years from 2.7 million to the current 6.5 million customers, thus putting a strain on the traffic through the mobile money channel, leading to slight delays in remitting payment through the paybill numbers, token generation and credit of postpaid customers’ accounts.
With this realization, the company recently undertook an upgrade of the IT platform that supports the mobile money payment channel in a bid to fast track token generation and receipt of payment for postpaid bills.
The upgrade involved a direct integration of the Kenya Power system to mobile money operators’ systems to ensure that all payments made through the two paybill numbers are received and tokens generated and customer accounts credited on an almost real-time basis.
Prior to this development, the company’s system was linked to mobile money operators through a mobile vending gateway which not only served requests for mobile money payments from Kenya Power but other companies too.
In addition, the system upgrade has created an avenue for creation of an application that will see postpaid customers self-read their meters and remit the data online for generation of bills.
As we move forward, we will continue to take advantage of advancement in technology to drive our business by continuously improving our IT systems as we seek different ways of improving customer experience.
Dr. Ken Tarus, PhD, is the Managing Director and CEO of Kenya Power