It is currently obvious that clients of any business crave convenience and are willing to pay for it. In any case, quite often, paying for the said convenience involves avoiding other costs for clients, even if smaller ones.
One of the leading drivers of customer convenience is the elimination of the necessity for customers to be present in particular locations for them to be able to access services. They prefer to access services from the comfort of their locations.
This is why online service platforms have now become the norm, and for some industries, it is no longer strategic at all to run business without such platforms.
It no longer makes sense to make excellent products in such industries, without conceiving a way in which clients will use the services without having to line up or travel far to get to your premises.
The financial services sector, always fast to adopt many favorable trends, has long adjusted to this requirement even if they may still have a lot of room for improvement in some markets.
Telecommunication companies are key stakeholders in the functioning of this model of services, and are therefore as well properly tuned to the same methodology.
There are some sectors though, where the mill of change grinds extremely slow. They take their time to adjust and adopt new trends. For example, public service providers and government departments may not find it yet necessary to conform to such trends within a short time.
However, for proper enabling of private sector players, they must finally follow suit and seek to avail remote services across all their major services.
Also, as their clientele expands with growing populations in most of the world, their resources to support face-to-face client service will ultimately be stretched beyond bearing. As such every meaningful service will end up online.
What coronavirus showed us
We could take a lesson from the current coronavirus crisis. Service providers that were already well tuned to online serving of customers remained fairly relevant to their client pools while those that were not, had to completely shut down.
In future it will not take any kind of crisis for this to be so. Client preferences and choices will dictate it. It is simply time-saving and fairer on all other resources to be able to access services domiciled in Kampala, while someone is seated in far off Kamdini. The necessity of human interaction for business purposes is thinning out by the day and this trend will not reverse.
This trend has a number of other advantages beyond convenience of customers. It for example eases pressure on the environment as a result of reducing congestion of populations in specific geographical boundaries such as cities. The necessary mobility of labour is lessened, resulting in reduction of use of automobiles and other forms of human transport.
This in turn results in reduced emission of greenhouse gases and the world reaps in avoidance of some non-communicable diseases among its growing population. The decongestion of business hubs in turn could result in a spread out of resources utilization by the working class which helps to improve communities outside of cities, and away from major towns.
The traditional office, as we have known it for long, is thus set to become a thing of the past for many industries. For services-dominated markets like Uganda’s, this will be more pronounced and it is an advantage against the population pressure the country is bound to shoulder in a few decades.
We will all do well to start thinking how whatever we deal in for business purposes will finally end up being accessed by our clientele without them meeting up with us. It is a self-sustaining strategy, as well as a national good if this picks up well.
There will be a lot change required, from the mindset of the working population to the required investment in information technology. The systems to support an environment of widespread remote service delivery require high level information technology control, and thus high investment.
There will also be a great need to improve our work ethic, so that workers are fully faithful to their job covenants in remote working arrangements.
We have a lot to benefit, both at individual business level and as economies, if we intensify the remote services delivery approach. It might help us to undo the environmental damage inflicted on nature in the previous century while also ensuring that business runs at reduced cost of both time and other resources.
It is a form of decentralization of service delivery at minimal cost. It is an efficient way to do things.
Raymond is a Chartered Risk Analyst and risk management consultant