MTN Uganda, you can do better

Three days I go, while on a morning run, I came across MTN staff installing Fiber Optic Internet cable. I had a brief chat with one of the men, who connected me to their head office boss responsible for last-mile home Internet packages.

Unlike other telecom companies, MTN does provide opportunities to local businesses through deliberate training under MTN Business solutions, as well as Women in Business initiatives, and several other corporate social responsibilities. So, the brand is close to my heart. And truth be told, MTN Kazi Bundle solution for SMEs is one of the most effective Internet solutions I have been using since 2016 for my business. The Internet does work and is affordable. It is ‘patient’ Internet which does not run so fast like those other bundles you buy and load! In Kazi Bundle, you get SMSs, data, and voice calls which make business communication swift.

But there are several areas where MTN must improve

I contacted MTN head office for a Fiber Internet connection to my home office. After a series of exchanges via WhatsApp with the “MTN Internet man”, we finally agreed on the package. However, when he brought the contract documents for signing, he said: “Unfortunately, Fiber is not near your place. You need to pay additional Ugx. 250,000 for LTE Installation, when Fiber comes near, you will just be upgraded.”

I learned early on to always make decisions quickly and take time to change them. I had made up my mind. Though this new requirement increased my budget and project costs, I signed. I have been using an Africell modem, though the Internet is sometimes fast, customer service and responsiveness are awful. You do not have a direct way to call anyone for help, yet their modem keeps going off, and only they can reset it. On the Africell website, there is no direct customer help phone you can contact. They are not even active on social media. Given the new MTN package gives me some monthly cost savings for the same package, I made the switch.

From the first contact, to signing the contract, I have noticed several areas MTN must urgently fix. Below are the top 3:

MTN improvement area 1:  Data analytics and better collaboration.

Whereas I already registered my SIM card and also for mobile money, the field staff asked for my National ID and passport photo, yet they already have this information about me! When it told the man I am already your customer go and check in the mobile money system, he said that is a different department. MTN must focus on customer convenience as well as retention. MTN must see the data it currently has about customers as a strategic asset and invests in capabilities to optimize it. Using data analytics, business intelligence and machine learning are some of the best ways to make the most of this data and provide better offerings. Linking the MTN Business to the MTN Mobile money applications to allow customer profile analysis and updates in real-time would reduce operational costs, deliver customer convenience, and reactive dormant customers through cross-selling new products to them. Imagine the field staff had to drive from MTN offices to collect data from home about me, which MTN already has!

MTN Improvement area 2: Momo payment option for MTN services. Whereas MTN spends a fortunate promoting MoMo ecosystem innovation aimed at encouraging many businesses to receive payments via Mobile Money, MTN does not deliberately require customers to pay for its services via MoMo! At least the field staff who worked on me had not MTN MoMo number where I could send the payment.

It is disgusting, to say the least.

MTN must urgently open an account for its several subscription products and services to allow customers the convenience of paying via MTN MoMo. This is the best way to demonstrate the value of MoMo. Why does MTN fight its innovations?

I stubbornly refused to pay for the MTN services via bank, as that would mean delivering money to a bank branch. I had to send money to the MTN staff via their mobile money to process.

MTN improvement area 3: MTN mobile lines

The field staff who worked on me called me on Airtel mobile number. I almost canceled my business. How do you convince me you have better services when your staff cannot even afford them?

I understand it is common for staff to test the competitor service offering, but such should be left to the market research and business intelligence team or folks who do data analytics and market insights to inform strategy. A company of the size of MTN must put in place an effective sales team onboarding process by giving them the tools and branding to represent the brand since they liaise with customers.

I could go on and on.

I would love the opportunity to engage with MTN Uganda leadership to explore data analytics solutions to make the most of the structured and unstructured data already present. That is the leading source of competitive advantage. I am sure MTN could be leaving a lot of money on the table.

I just paid for the Internet connection today 13th November 2020. I was promised that by Tuesday 16th November 2020, the connection shall be live. I will update you.

Copyright Mustable B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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