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Is Safaricom going to disconnect me later this month? I don’t think so. Safaricom already has a lot of information about me. I took a photo, presented a copy of my ID, and signed on a tablet at one of their customer experience centers the last time I renewed my SIM card. I’m hoping this information is still safe. Safaricom, as a business, must know a lot about me and its millions of customers. My 80-year-old mother is one of these customers. My mother was notified last year that she needed to register her SIM card, and she did so. She registered at a Safaricom customer service center miles away. Is it necessary for her to re-register? I don’t think so.

I was curious when my mum called to see if she still needed to register her SIM Card. I’m perfectly aware that having every SIM card registered at the point of purchase is both a regulatory requirement and the right thing to do. So, what’s all this buzz about? I dialed 200, and the recipient of the call confirmed that they are aware of my name, phone number, and ID number. Is it still necessary for me to queue up and register my SIM card? When I asked the staff about this, she surprised me by saying that everyone must physically present themselves at a Safaricom shop or dealership. She added, that it was a requirement by the regulator. I later dialled *106# and confirmed that my number is registered.

Is it still necessary for me to register? Although it does not appear to be the case, the flash notifications to go register continue to appear on my phone. It made me ponder how Safaricom has dealt with us its customers on the issue of SIM card registration. What is the purpose of sending the messages to all customers including those registered? Why do the contact centre staff appear to be unaware that not everyone needs to re-register? Why do they say things like “must” and “all”? Why is it necessary for someone to physically present themselves? How has it been possible to use MPESA without registering? Why haven’t MPESA agents encouraged customers to register? Does Safaricom still have our information from when we registered? How is one deregistered? How come customers with Airtel and Telkom lines can register online? Is Safaricom planning to roll out a similar option? I don’t have answers to these questions, but I feel they present a chance to strike a balance between compliance and customer experience.

Complying with regulations while also providing positive customer experiences might be considered a difficult task. In many businesses, regulatory compliance is a scapegoat for causing customer pain. Government officials have been harassing new business owners about licensing requirements for years. Many new business owners may be unaware of the numerous licenses required. What efforts does the government devote to educating its citizens and making licensing a straightforward painless process? Aside from government officials, many other customers also suffer as a result of new regulatory obligations. Is it possible for a company to strike a balance between compliance and experience? I believe they can if they spend more time getting to know their customers, educating them based on the needs identified, building trust, and making it simple for customers to comply. We live in the Customer Age, and we should never take our customers for granted!

Dr Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via Twitter @KiruthuLucy

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