It’s not every day the CEO of a major company asks his customers to log in and ask him tough questions face-to- face and on the spot. In an extremely well-attended and vibrant one hour LinkedIn Live session on 28 October, MTN South Africa CEO Charles Molapisi did just that, fielding many curveballs and unleashing a 24/7 customer service “war room” to ensure rapid responses and urgent follow-ups to the most pressing customer issues.
With rolling blackouts, vandalism at power stations and battery theft resulting in increasing downtime on networks across South Africa, Molapisi said he did not have time for excuses, but he and his team would work tirelessly to improve network stability despite these challenges.
Further breaking the mould of traditional CEOs, Molapisi insisted customers ask him “tough questions” – and those who did were promptly rewarded with data bundles, devices, and grocery and petrol vouchers loaded directly into their MTN Mobile Money (MoMo) wallets.
“Whether you are a small business, enterprise, contract or prepaid customer, or from the suburbs, townships or villages, no matter your price plan, you have a seat at the MTN table. This means everything we do in our business is all about you. Today is about listening and I commit that everything raised, and all concerns will be taken very seriously,” Molapisi said.
Lack of network coverage – caused by load shedding, battery theft or vandalism, but also lack of cellphone towers or coverage in certain areas – popped up as a common theme.
“As we deal with load shedding, we are working very hard to build the resilience of our network with batteries and generators and added security to guard against theft and vandalism. We have teams working 24/7 to stabilise our network despite the challenges, and once stabilised, we will be able to give you the network you deserve. We don’t want to make excuses – we want to fix the problem and I assure you we are doing everything we can despite the challenges, which are well known across South Africa.”
Rural connectivity and connecting the unconnected is also a core focus area for MTN, with firm commitments and major roll-outs taking place this year in an overarching network modernisation drive.
“Where there is no coverage or weak signals, please know that engagement is taking place at high levels to resolve this. We know that we need to grow with township and rural areas – we are working on it and doing something about it. We have enhanced capex profile of this business to improve the network and are continuing to invest heavily in this area.”
On high data costs, Molapisi said that there had been a more than 30% reduction in data costs by MTN in the last three years. “We continue to improve price optimisation, but this is not just a question of reducing costs, as we still need to be able to invest in the network.” He said the company was looking at a number of bespoke propositions to provide more favourable pricing to customers.
Molapisi also took time to highlight some of the exciting advances customers now have at their fingertips. MTN Mobile Money (MoMo) is indicative of the immense progress made in driving solutions that close gaps to digital and financial access.
“MoMo is the fastest growing app in the country – we are seeing 3.5 million downloads of the app this year with over five million customers already registered and over a million transacting on a daily basis – and we are only getting started. We want to address the problem of financial inclusion in South Africa. We are growing this at scale and are working tirelessly to make this happen,” said Molapisi.
Some of MTN’s customer experience recent key wins were also highlighted. These include:
- MTN South Africa network availability is impacted by load shedding. However MTN is working tirelessly on resilience – today we over 70% of our network equipped with batteries.
- MTN was recently ranked best mobile network by MyBroadband for Q3 – as it has been consistently for the past five years.
- 20% 5G population coverage with over 1 448 live 5G sites on air.
- 96% 4G coverage across South Africa.
- Sim swap improvements – simplified customer journey.
- Fraud line – dedicated support line launched for fraudulent subscriptions.
Molapisi said an upskilling of the entire workforce of the organisation was also taking place. Molapisi thanked “all MTNers who continue to work so hard” and thanked customers for continuing “to use the best network in the country”.
“Everybody deserves the benefits of the modern connected life and when we say everyone, we mean absolutely everyone across the length and breadth of South Africa. I am hearing you loudly and clearly about issues and I have every reason to take you very seriously. We must address these; there are no excuses. We have a responsibility to put you, our customers, at the centre of the business. We need to listen to you, take the feedback we get every day, and work it to provide solutions every month,” says Molapisi.
The CEO sees a bright future ahead thanks to the fourth Industrial Revolution and move to future digital pathways. He says this is where an immediate solution to South Africa’s skills crisis lies.
“The power of software, tech developments and driving Stem skills will help us fix the unemployment problem in South Africa. My vision is for there to be a software developer in every household by 2030. This is a dream I have as the CEO of MTN South Africa and will continue to develop it. I believe the future is about software and the curiosity and ability to develop new business models.”
After the hour was up, Molapisi encouraged everyone with a query to stay on so his “24/7 war room” could get their details and get back to them with a solution. He also promised to come back every month to listen, engage and address challenges.
“We are going to break our backs to make sure we give you the service you deserve. We are going to continue to respond to calls. We are looking at every single comment and we are going to address it. I truly appreciate every one of you”, Molapisi concluded.
About MTN Group
Launched in 1994, MTN Group is a leading emerging markets operator with a clear vision to lead the delivery of a bold new digital world to our customers. We are inspired by our belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE in South Africa under the share code “MTN”. Our strategy, Ambition 2025, is anchored on building the largest and most valuable platform business, with a clear focus on Africa. Learn more at www.mtn.com, or visit www.mtn.co.za and follow us on Twitter.
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