Safaricom: Services Marketing

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Introduction

Safaricom Limited is a telecommunication services provider company in the country Kenya found in East Africa. “This company which was instituted in the year 1999 provides converged telecommunication operations encompassing communication through voice, communication via data and video communication methods. The Safaricom company is a one-stop-shop offering converged and all-inclusive voice communications plus data messaging services.

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The company has a network that covers most of its country of operation which also spills to the neighboring countries. Safaricoms’ third-generation network is the lone network in the region providing data at very high speeds. This is made possible via broadband, and the fiber optic cable which is an undersea cable connected to the whole world. Safaricom’s services are of superior quality and are growth driven.” (Dick 84)

The company looks forward to making constructive contributions towards society indirect ways via high-quality significant service and economic support for projects in the society. The company’s dedication to contributing back to the community addresses environmental wellbeing, societal health, education, and sporting activities. The company’s staff is all geared towards exception ability, success, and the establishment of ways of attraction.

Safaricom Company again looks for outstanding individuals who develop the company’s incentives and expand its prospects. Indeed Safaricom is customized to meet the requirements of individuals and the whole venture, this is done while relying on its understanding of customers. Therefore this paper seeks to identify the entire operation services offered by the Safaricom company identify the company’s blueprint and highlight the potential areas of service failure. The paper will conclude by giving recommendations on the company’s services which need to be given a facelift.

Call and messaging services

Safaricom offers a wide range of services, this includes call-related services, messaging services, data services, internet services, money keeping and transfer services (M-Pesa), and technical service support regarding gadgets used to access their products. This company offers call services at very affordable rates to its customers through post-paid and prepaid services. In prepaid (Pay as you use) service the Safaricom network subscriber uses a Safaricom Self Identification Card (SIM) which has his or her number to communicate via a handset. This service requires one to load airtime to be allowed to use the calling services.

Airtime is accessed through credit cards supplied by the company through distributers to its subscribers in different denominations. This is the major business of this particular company (selling airtime to subscribers for use in the communication). The service also has a broad range of ways and airtime denominations suiting all subscribers. Prepay service comes with several added services comprising of free balance checking, international calling, voice massages, migration from one tariff to another, schemes of loyalties and customer care service at any free time, and other information services (traffic, safety, breakdown, monetary rates, directory and even breaking news services).

“The postpaid service is given to the customer who wishes to be issued with bills at the end of the month instead of buying airtime every and all the time they want to communicate. Postpaid or monthly billing service also gives subscribers competitive tariff plans and latest exclusive services.” (Gregory 12)

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While calling the company has instituted several tariffs that a subscriber can choose from depending on its reliability to the particular subscriber. “The tariffs are like “Ongea” tariff which has a flat calling rate of eight Kenyan shillings per minute (about 0.10 of a dollar) within its subscribers and a little bit more across other networks. The tariff also offers very affordable competitive international calling rates. Another tariff is the “Super Ongea tariff”. With this tariff, Safaricom has initiated a way in which calling rates move depending on the time the subscriber is calling (cheaper late into the night) and where the subscriber is calling from.” (Emmanuel 10)

In 2007 Safaricom introduced “Simu ya Jamii” (community phone). This is a business phone that is placed at strategic places where there might be no access to other ways of communication. This is a handset of high quality that is for business. For one to start this kind of business he or she only needs to go to Safaricom dealers, pay a small fee for enrolling, pick the gadget which has some airtime already in it and start the business.

This business is mostly situated where there are very few communication gadgets for people to use or where persons do not top up their gadgets. This payphone service is insured and the people using it for business enjoy a free advertisement, a structure for conducting the business, customer care service, and other technical services together with the needed licenses. The business is the company’s incentive in making use of its resources to bring higher profits.

This company which has about 16,000,000 subscribers has a consistency that makes it almost certain in monopolizing some services. Safaricom has instituted a very interesting service to its subscribers. This is a kind of credit advance given to its subscribers who have used the service for more than three months. The advance is slightly less than a dollar (50 Kenyan shillings, a dollar is about 75 Kenyan shillings). For a subscriber to qualify for credit advance he or she should have a maximum of five Kenyan shillings. To get the advance the subscriber then enters a certain code and he or she is credited with fifty shilling airtime.

Credit advance service is not a free service as a service fee of five Kenyan shillings is charged for the service. This is considered unfair as the company does business inside a business. It is believed that about three million subscribers take the credit advance every day, this is to mean Safaricom as a company bags about 15 million (about 200,000 dollars) every day from its subscribers. This is taken as an act of exploitation from the subscribers who try to complain but are unable to effect changes since this service comes in handy at a place where airtime is not being sold or when one needs to call and he or she does not have the funds. This also means that subscribers can not pull away from the service as it is also handy.

Safaricom offers messaging services to its subscribers. This service consists of a very handy method of communicating using short messaging services (SMS), through email, and via picture messaging. This service also caters to breaking news, sports, and other forms of entertainment. Safaricom also offers a free messaging service that helps subscribers to send callbacks to other Safaricom users. Once a subscriber enters *130# and then the number which he or she wants to be called from followed by # the other Safaricom subscriber will get a text message reading (please call me to thank you). The company also provides ways under which a subscriber can send a text message to the email.

Safaricom has a loyalty scheme given to its subscribers called “Bonga” (talk) points. This scheme is availed to both post and prepaid subscribers of Safaricom services. A subscriber registers for this scheme and immediately starts earning points as he or she uses credit. The subscribers earn a point for ten shillings used either on short messages, calls, or internet use. The points accumulate with the continued use of these services. The purpose of this scheme is to reward subscribers who use Safaricom services as many points fetch big rewards. Bonga points can be redeemed at the very many retail centers that dot the country.

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The rewards for the same, ranges from several text messages, to talk time and other prices comprising of mobile phones, modems, and even laptops computers. All these rewards in a way are in line with the service provided by the company when one redeems a handset he or she will use Safaricom services as they are usually locked to access only these services. If it is a modem one has to feed in Safaricom airtime as it is specified to one user. Again this is an area of service failure

M-PESA services

M-PESA means mobile money in the local dialect. This service which is regarded as one of the biggest assets of the company allows for a quick, secure, affordable, and reliable way of sending money through a mobile gadget (phone). This company found in Kenya is believed to be the first one in the world to effect this kind of service. The service is offered in a joint venture with another company (Vodafone). M-PESA is accessible to every subscriber of this company’s services whether prepaid subscribers or post-paid ones. This service does not require one to have a bank account to be registered and the company does not charge any fees at all for registration.

The services are accessible all over the country to M-PESA agents who act on behalf of the company. This application is installed by the company on the subscribers Self Identification Module (SIM) which is inserted in the gadget (it is operational with all mobile phone makes).

“To register for this service one only needs a handset, a SIM card, and an identification card. The person will then walk to a nearby M-PESA agent who will activate the SIM card to access these services. The agent then teachers the client how to use this service while giving the client the Personal Identification Number. This number is for use by the client alone, exposure of this number to another person means that a particular person can access the client account and even withdraw money that is on the account in SIM card. This service is very convenient since a person can send money from anywhere in East Africa, its environs the United Kingdom, and other overseas countries. Again this service does not discriminate users of other networks as one can send money across other networks in its region of operation.” (Soros 28)

On the handset the company has provided an M-PESA menu, this menu has, send money, withdraw cash, buy airtime, pay the bill and buy goods, ATM withdrawal, and my account options. If one wants to send money, he or she will go to the send money option, enter the recipient’s mobile number, feed in the amount required, type the Personal Identification Number and then press the send button. After this set of the procedure is over the client will be notified through a short message service if the transaction is successful, if there is a delay in the network and when the transaction is confirmed to be successful.

In cash withdrawal, the client follows the same kind of procedures but this time, the client will have to enter the agent’s number from which the transaction is taking place. The client then enters the amount of the PIN and the transaction is then facilitated. The agents transact using money deposited and withdrawn by clients, in this sense they act like banks having a far more reach. The service is at a manageable fee starting from about 0.33 of a dollar depending on the amount of money to be deposited or withdrawn.

The service also makes it possible to buy airtime, pay bills, and buying of goods. With M-PESA it is easy to buy airtime for usage on the same phone or crediting another phone number. This is possible as long as there is enough money on one’s phone, therefore there is no need to move around looking for airtime as it can be purchased in the comfort of a home, at the workplace, and where there is no airtime. It is also helpful as one can buy airtime on behalf of another. The Safaricom Company also initiated ways of paying bills (electricity bills, water bills, and other bills) with this service

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“This service is advantageous over banks and other institutions in the money business as clients can access money on the move, clients can send, deposit, or withdraw cash in the remotest of areas, it takes very little time to transact, it is accessible on holidays, it is accessible at night (through Automatic Teller Machines), it is convenient, it is easy to use (even for the illiterate and the old), it is fast (as fast as sending a text message) and it is safe (one needs to know your PIN to access money in the case of handset misplacement or theft).” (Nixon 43)

This service can also be accessed on bank Automatic Teller Machines. With this service, subscribers can access their money at many VISA Automatic Teller Machines in the country and outside the country. To withdraw money the subscriber will go to the M-PESA menu, ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) withdrawal then he or she will enter the machine’s number, the PIN after which he or she will receive a short message with a number he or she will use to withdraw the cash needed. Again this is at an affordable fee with the availability of the network.

International Transfer of money

This is a service innovated by Safaricom for receiving money from overseas countries to someone in Kenya. Money is sent into the recipient’s mobile handset. The time of transfer is almost instant as it takes the same time a short text message takes. The parties on either side then get a message of confirmation each from Safaricom. “Currently this service is in effect between the United Kingdom and Kenya but is flexible in a way that can incorporate other systems. This service by M-PESA with Vodafone, Western Union, and KENTV has expanded functional services. This organization provides for money in particular locations for subscribers to the service.” (Mann 89)

Anyone who is a subscriber to this service can get money through an international money transfer. If at all a Safaricom subscriber gets money through this service and is not registered he or she will get a notification to subscribe to the service in three weeks to receive the cash to his or her phone. In case the Safaricom subscriber chooses not to register he or she will still be able to get the cash through Western Union.

Once the money arrives, which is usually up to 250 pounds equivalent to about 30,000 Kenyan shillings, the recipient can withdraw at any M-PESA agent anywhere in the country. The maximum amount of money to be sent in a month is up the tone a thousand dollars with fees ranging from 4 pounds to 7 pounds when sending 250 pounds. The conversion of the cash will be according to the exchange rates at the time of sending, while there will be no fees levied on the recipient apart from the normal M-PESA rates.

Even with a lack of network coverage send money will be reflected in the balance section which one can access with the availability of the network. The notification message for the particular transaction shows detail of the amount of money sent, available balance, the number of the receipt, place of sending and the time money was send.

Because of the successful M-PESA project, the Safaricom Company is in a process of expanding this particular service to allow sending of money from other countries. With Vodafone’s technical assistance Safaricom is still launching this service in other countries including Afghanistan.

Internet services

Safaricom also provides internet both on handsets and computers. The company boasts of a third-generation kind of network that is faster than any other found in the country. “They have two kinds of network connections, the first one being through a Safaricom broadband modem and the undersea fiber optic cable connecting to the world. The kinds of billing of these internet connections are either time-based, volume-based, or unlimited connection for a particular period. Safaricom depends on Seacoms and wire max infrastructure in ensuring far-reaching coverage.” (Wanjala 25)

“The broadband modem is a high-speed internet connector that is attached to a computer USB port for internet connectivity. This has a SIM card that is fed with credit to access the services.” (Albert 18) When connected the purchase of bundles is highly recommended for lesser billing (about 8 Kenyan shillings per downloaded bundle). The more bundles one buys the lesser he or she is charged per minute. Sometimes Safaricom does give unlimited internet once in a while at a specified price for a whole week.

This company on most occasions rewards its subscribers with modems, this is upon purchase of goods up to a certain amount of money, the redeeming of Bonga points, and when one buys a computer from them. This means so many people have these gadgets.

Areas of service failure

Safaricom Company offers many services; it’s big, consistent, and stable and has millions of subscribers. This has made it almost assume monopoly. The evidence of this is in their charges on airtime. Whereas other service providers have a maximum of about seven Kenyan shillings per minute on calls across other networks in their tariffs, Safaricom has a tariff of about 8 shillings per minute within its network. The other providers have low rates of up to two shillings per minute within their networks while the rates Safaricom charges across other networks are up to 20 shillings. Again its credit advance option is regarded as a means of exploitation as the company already gets a lot of money from its over 16,000,000 subscribers.

Safaricom’s internet rates are far above what others do offer. The reason for this they say is a high-speed internet connection. They don’t have fixed monthly unlimited rates for their internet services like the other providers who have fixed rates starting with 3000 to 400 Kenyan shillings. Instead, this company encourages the buying of more data bundles to be charged less per megabytes downloaded.

Safaricom has a lot more subscribers than any other company in the region; surprisingly there are insufficient network boosters in remote areas to support network strength. Another problem is the congestions in the network due to many people making calls at the same time. This particular problem is particularly realized at peak hours also affecting M-PESA transactions and it can run for several hours before it is rectified.

Recommendations and conclusion

The recommended actions to be taken on the networking congestion problem are the erecting of more network boosters in remote areas and areas with network deficiency.

The company should also offer affordable rates regarding internet and call services and scrap out the fee they charge on the credit advance they offer their customers. What is being done now is taken by critics as a way of exploitation by a company that announces big profits at the end of each financial year and cannot reduce their rates considerably. Therefore as shown in this paper, Safaricom has more potentiality in realizing better standards once it irons out the highlighted areas of service failure. This will be realized when the company uses the other numerous loopholes in realizing profits while amending the areas of failure.

Works cited

Albert, George. The modem and high speed internet connections. Nairobi: East African Publishers, 2002. Print.

Dick, Daniel. Operations of Safaricom Telecommunications Company: East African Publishers, 2000. Print.

Emmanuel, Christine. Telecommunication tariffs in Kenya. Nairobi: East African Publishers, 2000. Print.

Gregory, Michel. The post paid calling services, Nairobi: Kaman and sons: Publishers Mann, Andrew. International organizations providing reliable money transfer, Washington DC: Davidson and Sons: Publishers. 1998. Print.

Nixon, David. Money on the move, New York: W.H. Freeman and company Publishers. 2005 Print.

Soros, George. How M-PESA works. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company Publishers. 2005 Print.

Wanjala, John. Types of internet connections 2nd Edition. Nairobi: East African Publishers, 2002 Print.

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