To understand the common challenges faced by utilities across Africa when it comes to customer engagement, ESI Africa delved into the topic with Umeme’s digital services manager, David Birungi.

According to Birungi, utilities are struggling to pinpoint the precise time to begin customer engagement.

The digital services manager believes that until recently, most professionals in the electricity sector previously didn’t always know about, or take into consideration, the value of customer engagement prior to the clients becoming distressed. "I think the customer journey begins when they reach out for the service.”

He urges utilities to decide early as to when they should being engaging with their customers, as “there’s no customer that we can’t engage with,” underlines Birungi.

"We can engage with customers ranging from pensioners to business professionals and even home keepers who would be busy cooking at home and then the power goes off; all those are customers to engage with."

Engaging the customer via online services

Now on a question of when to begin – Umeme’s official says from a panel discussion on which he participated, it was clear that utilities need to recognise that customers are now online.

“The mobile phone has been able to revolutionalise the way we interact with our customers but look at it from a scientific way of dealing with our customers. Each of the devices our customers carry such as a smartphone – which has to be charged, and every time they go for the socket is an opportunity for us to engage with them.”

In the interview below, Birungi explains further on how to embrace moments to engaging with customers.