The following are the standard definitions:
When I sign up for a newsletter, I have opted in. When I subscribe to a blog, I have opted in. When I choose one tariff over another, I have opted in. The point being, it is my decision and discretion to choose what I want to read in my inbox, which tariff I will use to make calls, which bundle I buy for my internet based on what works best for me etc. But when you as brand think you know what is best for your clients and force them into an opt-out situation; you’ve got it wrong. People are your clients for their own reasons and not yours.
Earlier this morning, I woke up to tweets of a new Safaricom Tariff call Uwezo Tariff. These tweets in particular caught my eye as they signify the issues this post seeks to address; the issue of Kenyan brands acting on your behalf without your go-ahead. From these tweets, it is clear that people are not in the least pleased that they have been moved to Uwezo Tariff yet they were comfortable with what they had. This then requires them to opt out in order to enjoy the previous tariffs that they were used to. Those who do not notice and stay on may end up paying more.
There is outcry even on Facebook. My brother just told me about a friend of his who was complaining about the same thing…
Kenyan Brands will have to wake up to a new generation of Kenyans that will not just sit back and be dictated on by big business. This generation is not only tech savvy but influencers in their own right within their online social circles. What they say in these social networks has weight, reach, and the potential to build a crisis of immense proportions for your brand. And it is so many things, not just Telco’s. Sometimes you find yourself receiving tonnes of newsletters you never subscribed to, or bills to something you are not sure you use or even own. But the company you deal with somehow just added it on top of your package and now you are paying for dead weight without knowing. And it is only when you realize, if at all, that you don’t use or need it that you can opt-out – having forked out cash for it already.
Just last week, I got into an altercation with Safaricom over internet connectivity. My problem arose a day after purchasing the Bamba Unlimited Internet bundle. Usually, you can surf with the bundle you have purchased and once you exhaust it, you can still continue to surf for the rest of the month but at lower speeds. But this time, after running through the assigned bundle, my internet got cut off, completely. I was pissed and said as much on Twitter. Someone from the Safaricom customer care department got in touch with me and told me that I even though I had bought the bundle, I surfed out of bundle and so I was charged the usual 8 KES per MB. I did not want to argue so I shut up and bought another bundle. I have been using Bamba Unlimited for a couple months now so I know the drill but this guy tells me what to do and I do that. He assured me this would last the month. But I surfed for a day and then got disconnected. To say I was angry would be a gross understatement.
So after I lost my head and gave Safaricom hell on Twitter, I was called by called a certain lady from the Safaricom Customer Care team who told me that if I checked properly, I bought 300MB data and was awarded 600MB. She then went on to say that Safaricom had started a new promotion called the 100% promotion or something of the sort and had suspended the Bamba Unlimited deal. This meant that those of us who expected the internet to last the month would be disappointed. When I began asking her who told them I wanted to be part of this new promotion as opposed to the Bamba Unlimited which was working just fine for me, she hang up. I went to twitter and asked Safaricom if they have ever heard of opt-in? And then continuing giving them hell on Twitter until Bob Collymore himself got involved and helped in getting my problem fixed.
I was offended at the fact that though I was subscribed to one offer, Safaricom thought they “owned” me and could therefore push me into some promotion I did not subscribe to and which really made no sense for me to be onto. And the same goes for the tariffs. People choose different Tariffs because they work for them. When you assign them to different tariff their opinions notwithstanding, you will have a problem.
I am sure that with the Internet giving consumers the voice they never had before, businesses will have to pay close attention to these old school tricks that they have traditionally implemented. Consumers will shout and they will take your brand down the moment you begin you think you own them. The best thing you can do as a brand is give them choice. Allow them to opt in to whichever of the choices you have displayed. Let it be their decision to choose from the variety. Don’t try to push them into what works best for your bottom line. Because at the end of the day; a happy customer is what’s best for your bottom line.