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What next for Banks in Nigeria?

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I have just returned from a week in Nigeria. If you have not been here, it is worth a visit as it will never disappoint.

A seething mass of humanity

The most densely populated country in Africa is currently under siege, there is talk of boarders being closed to stem the spread of the Ebola virus that has killed nearly 1000 people in West Africa alone this year, Lagos, is a sprawling mass of humanity where the super wealthy live alongside the poor, where it is not unusual to see armed men escorting businessmen from one meeting to the next, where the sound of laughter is never far away from the sound of argument, as the seething majority mass of humanity scratch out a living working on the street, in shops or tower blocks. A country of contradictions, Nigeria certainly is that!

I was in Nigeria to visit the country’s leading banks, to help them fathom a way to develop their businesses, grow and capitalise on the massive growth that is projected in this market.

Everyone's talking about Digital

The buzz word in the Banking world is Digital at the moment. In the developed markets, of Europe, North America and to some extent Asia, resolving the digital challenge is quite simple. Most consumers have smart phones and through these, banks can offer a plethora of ‘help yourself’ services, moving customers away from the branch environments into ‘anytime, anywhere’ banking model that reduces costs for the financial institution whilst giving customers greater flexibility and personalisation.

The answer lies in defining customer experience

One of the ways we help companies answer complex branding problems is to create what we call a customer journey. We create fictitious characters that fit the profile of the businesses target consumer and then, using a series of complex metrics, we create journey’s that these customers take from the point they meet the brand, to the point a business objective is achieved. Along this journey are what we call ‘moments of opportunity’ - these are opportunities to bond, to educate, to empathise and to sell. We identify and craft these moments so they personify the brand and its values.

A narrow spectrum in the developed world

In the developed world, the spectrum of potential customers for any brand is quite narrow, especially when one considers digital - a delivery mechanism for ‘moments of opportunity’. Most people have the technology to interface with all manner of services wirelessly or when mobile.

An open plain in Africa

Now consider an African customer... where upwards of 85% are using ‘old technology’, mobile phones that have long been obsolete in the developed world for example. Whilst they aspire to use laptops and smartphones, they cannot afford them, or if they can, they will not use data services unless the data is provided free of charge - which it isn’t. The spectrum of potential customers is much broader - from the super wealthy who have everything one would expect in the developed world, to the poor who do not.

Serving your profitable 20% and growing your unprofitable 80%

Banks in Nigeria are facing complex challenges. How do they serve all customers, in a market where they are making over 80% revenue from less than 20% of customers? Some clients demand the best of the developed world, where the masses are crammed into overcrowded non-profitable branches conducting micro transactions.

Multi-Channel Digital

One answer is to use a multi-channel digital approach, where all groups of customers are served in a dynamic and relevant way. Where simple and modern systems work seamlessly alongside one another to offer all customers a meaningful and relevant service experience.

How can banks in this market make these systems work profitably?

  • Broaden your horizons and remain focused on outcomes

  • Focus on customer journeys that are relevant and appropriate to all your segments

  • Choose tools that deliver to identified moments of opportunity

  • Never underestimate the power of social media

  • Use customer journey’s to help elevate your customers beyond aspirational

  • Keep it simple and avoid being hypnotised by sexy high-tech - make sure it will work for your customers

  • Inform your decision making - learn from patterns and trends.

  • Speak to your customers and look to other markets to learn lessons from them

  • Look at other categories - look beyond Banking to other categories for answers

  • Educate - help your customers learn with you

  • Iterate - continually evolve and change, do not stand still

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