Tanzania lost 15% of its annual sales due to power shortages in 2017. Africa is a continent that is still endeavoring to conquer everyday hurdles. When it comes to customer experience, it is these challenges that are influencing and transforming the expectations of average African consumers today.

Globalisation dictating to African consumers

The Expectation Economy has set standards that have created a new level of yearning among African consumers. The need for brand-driven experiences is in the pipeline, but this becoming a reality is not going to happen anytime soon for the African masses.

Africans have been exposed to irrelevant offline and online content, customer experience value and touchpoints that are a 'copy-paste approach' taken from another geography.

Annals of the American Association of Geographers, May 2017, states that only 8 countries in Africa gave content that has been locally produced to meet customer needs. Considering the hyper-competitive economy, consumers are digitally empowered, yet there is a feeling of time-deprivation.

This understanding of customer experience is essential for brands as it fundamentally helps in designing their strategy for the market. Brands must decide to either save or seize customer attention. The dichotomy is more pronounced among African consumers, which sometimes can be a contraction to global customer experience models.

Customer experience for the average African customer

The importance of customer experience is undeniable anywhere in the world; Africa is no different. Having said that, customer experience here is still expressed in the most unsophisticated of forms. For example, you will notice advertising that conveys a distinct, pertinent and positive messaging, services and products that work and experience that is delivered.

At the end of the day, the importance of customer experience management in this context solely focusses on moderating consumer needs to derive solutions from the sub-par customer experience. 

Know when to push for consumer attention saving or seizing strategies

Surveys work well in order to derive an answer for your brand. Brands not experienced in the market can look for relevant survey question examples online. Follow this up by formulating the questionnaire with a list of questions that will trigger customer responses.

A set of designed templates can be accessed via the online survey maker. This will give the survey a more professional look and feel. Collate the responses to analyse trends, patterns, needs and expectations of consumer practices in the African business landscape.

The majority of the urban African consumers are more inclined to brand experiences that are less stressful in their interactions and prone to automating laborious procedures that facilitate more invisible customer experience. 

The reason why Africans still appreciate these invisible customer experiences is because it reflects their typical manner of transacting that benefits the requirements of the local community.

Dr. Lazarus Dokora, Zimbabwe's education minister, announced in April 2017 that parents will be able to use livestock as a medium of payment for their children's school tuition fees.

The schools came on board in offering this flexible payment system to parents. In addition to that, the schools also decided to extend the benefit in the form of accepting skills and services, like plumbing or building, as other alternatives of fee payment.

This is an example of how the institution is extending customer experience in the form of addressing the needs of the local community. A contradiction to this approach, which is also a sure way to seize the African consumer's attention, is by enhancing customer experiences that are louder, shinier and better.

But what restricts brands to adopt this approach is the condition of the masses of young, educated and cosmopolitan Africans. While they are aspirational, their situation is cash-strapped with little — or no access — to customer experiences that are creative.

Statistics by Stutern, May 2017 states that 75% of Nigerian graduates earn less than NGN 50,000 (equivalent to USD 125 per month), while more than 80% of these graduates cannot afford to buy a car from their first job's salary.

This shows why consumers are forced to look inwards rather than hope for optimal customer experience.

Africanisation of customer experience

The Africanisation of customer experience management has only just begun. Being human about brand offerings will appeal to deeper emotions and inspire customers towards making a purchase.

Everyone agrees that there is a scarcity of accessible funds among the ever-rising, educated African consumers. In spite of this, brands that dare to celebrate Africa, its culture, people via affordable and accessible means will enjoy the dominance in the market.

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