Safaricom attempts to reinvigorate its voice business
>Feature allows callers to transfer cost to receivers.
>Feature opens avenue for startups to roll out toll-free service to improve customer interaction.
>Voice is Safaricom’s largest business but is slowing.
Safaricom (SCOM) has introduced a new voice-calling feature that allows its customers to foot the bill for their callers. When the feature is activated, a person can make a call on the Safaricom network even without credit on their phone and transfer the cost of that call to the receiver. The reverse call feature began rolling out to Safaricom customers in Kenya on June 18.
The feature that allows customers to transfer the cost of calling to their receivers could help Safaricom boost usage of its voice service both among consumers and business customers. In the consumer market, the feature allows a mother in the village to call their son in Nairobi without requiring to top up their phone as the son would cover the cost of the call when they receive it. Also, a stranded person who cannot access credit to top up their device but still needs to make an urgent call could find Safaricom’s reverse calling feature ideal.
Bringing toll-free calling to small businesses
For business customers, the feature could allow startup businesses to enjoy the services that have mostly been accessible to large corporations such as extending toll-free lines to their clients. Safaricom’s reverse call feature opens an avenue for small businesses to build closer relationship with their customers, such as covering their calling costs when they call in to make product inquiries or seek customer support.
Safaricom’s reverse call feature could particularly be a boon for Kenya’s e-commerce startups. As more consumers embrace online shopping, ecommerce providers are seeking better says to serve their shoppers and make more sales, and extending a toll-free line for customers to inquire about their orders and obtain free support such as how to operate a new machine or device could help these businesses build a more loyal customer base and boost sales in the process.
Growth in Safaricom’s voice business is slowing
Selling voice services is Safaricom’s most important business, being its single-largest revenue source. The voice business generated Ksh95.9 billion in revenue in the financial year ended March 2019, contributing 38% of Safaricom’s total revenue. But the voice business has been slowing in recent year, with revenue growing only 0.3% in the latest financial year. The introduction of the reverse call feature that transfers the cost of a call from the caller to the receiver appears to be an attempt by Safaricom to revitalise its voice business.
Safaricom shares closed at Ksh27.25 on Friday.