Smartphone Apps Should Be The Next Level Of Personal Interaction For Kenyan Brands

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Smartphone apps
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We are living in the “app” age, which has been fueled by the upsurge of smartphones use worldwide. Companies worldwide are outing official apps on Google’s Play Store and Apple App store that offer their services.

In Kenya, the banking industry is leading the pack , where individual banks have released their official apps on both Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store. Barclays bank mobile app, Cooperative Bank’s MCo-op cash, KCB’s Mobi-bank, NIC’s NIC Now, Chase’s Mfukoni, DTB’s DTB-Kenya are some of the official apps the companies have released that make it easy for their consumers access financial services easily.

However, I think other brands in Kenya have the opportunity to release official apps which will improve service delivery to their consumers. These are recommendations to these industries found in Kenya about the benefits of developing their own apps:

1. Telecommunications

This is an industry that has disappointed me in this area because they are central to the growing smartphone use in Kenya but, they  have not really develop killer official apps that integrate all of their services. For example, Safaricom, the leading telecommunications provider in Kenya has several apps on Google’s Play Store &  Apple’s App store like M-Ledger  Safaricom Appstore, Safaricom Contacts, Safaricom Capture and Safaricom My Tunes. In my opinion , they should develop one app that includes the functionality from their current apps, add Safaricom’s self care functionality, checking data and airtime balance and finally MPESA. With this one app, Safaricom’s subscribers will able to access services offered by the company easily and effectively. Same case with Airtel Kenya, they don’t have an official app but their parent company has. They can release an app that offers service requests, Airtel Money integration & promotion alerts which will improve service delivery to their loyal customers.

2. Insurance 

This is another industry that can use official apps to their advantage. Insurance companies are financial companies by definition and can use their apps to renew insurance policies of current customers and even net new customers in the process. In Kenya, the insurance market penetration hovers around the 4% mark and if they release official apps with full functionality, this number will surely improve.

3. Music

Local record labels like Ogopa Deejays ,Calif Records or Grandpa Records can develop apps for Android and iOS that give access to their music databases for a fee per month in  either subscription or streaming formats. This has several benefits: The record labels will have a new revenue stream, Kenyan music will be available to users beyond the borders  which boosts revenues, users will readily get new releases via notifications and will motivate the record companies to release quality music due to the increased audience reach.

4. Transport

In the developed world, companies and government agencies involved in the transport industry have released apps that show the locations of the various transport vehicles and expected times of arrival or departure on various locations.

The same thing can be applied over here in Kenya. Local transportation based companies like City Hoppa & Double M which are metro based bus companies and others like Easy Coach and Modern coast which are involved in long distance travel should release apps that detail departure times, booking and payment options and maps that show the estimated time of arrival of the bus you booked earlier.

Meanwhile in aviation, Kenya Airways has a mobile app on the Play Store and Apple App Store which is a good example because it enables passengers to book flights, check-in and check flight info.

5. Food 

Popular and upcoming restaurants and fast food chains can release official apps which customers can book tables, order take-outs, check the virtual menu and see current deals. In addition, these apps should have integrated payment options so that it becomes easy for a loyal or new customer to pay for the services

6. Retail

Leading supermarkets like Nakumatt, Uchumi, Tuskys and Naivas and other retail based companies can release official apps that inform customers on latest sales and discounts, newly launched products, loyalty points count or even in-app  integration with various payment companies where goods can be bought on the point of sale or delivered to the customer.

7. Energy

Kenya Power currently has an app on the Play Store but it can only be used to report power outages in the area. They have the opportunity to properly update the app to include other functions like  applying for power connection and re-connection, information about scheduled shortages, checking your payments records & receipts over a period like 1 year and integrating a payments feature that enables users to pay connection fees and prepaid units.

Other notable industries like those involved in manufacturing and processing food can release official apps that have a virtual catalogue of their products complete with their prices and where the products are sold.

The future is digital, they say and since there are over 32.2 million mobile phone subscribers in Kenya and it is growing, the impact of having an official app for a brand cannot be understated.

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