“Thankfully, Zendesk allows for both an internal and external omnichannel experience. It aggregates all our different channels, and we can go to one beautiful dashboard, which is our own internal omnichannel”.
“Zendesk enables the user to build a workflow automating tasks without writing code, and catered to the individual business. This is vital to a business like Paystack that is constantly growing.”
Dimitriy Anderson is CIO and Market Director for Leroy Merlin South Africa, a DIY retail group present in 16 countries including Senegal and Morocco. Stephen Amaza is Customer Success Manager at Paystack, an innovative payment processing company based in Nigeria. They shared their insights for best practices in the future and the main trends and challenges for customer experience in Africa.
Covid-19 and hyper-growth: dealing with customer experience challenges in Africa
Paystack has encountered some major challenges over the years. Customer distrust of online transactions or direct bank account transfers due to notorious hacking, means the majority of transactions in Nigeria occur via cash. And pandemic creates even more strain, making it difficult to put the right infrastructure into place. Working in a reliable office space with electricity, internet etc., differs from a work-from-home situation which varies from person to person, introducing a disparity in employee efficiency.
Leroy Merlin’s main challenge has been to face unprecedented and unexpected growth. Managing double and even triple-digit growth is not an easy task. The concept of migrating SaaS-based tools allowed Leroy Merlin to be more flexible and to adjust their strategy.
“Covid-19 was part of the acceleration. Now our reality is about dealing with growth, with the number of customers in the physical stores, customers who purchase online, and managing with these orders and managing customers’ expectations and hopes for better service.”
— Dimitriy Anderson, CIO and Market Director at Leroy Merlin South Africa
Adapting and shifting strategy: it’s all about bold moves
Paystack took the opportunity to improve their transaction practices. For instance, businesses like Spar which are traditionally offline retail businesses, had to resort to online transactions due to a two-week lockdown. This transition was ambitious, but possible with the right resources to begin immediate online sales. An important factor in switching to Zendesk was to allow greater out-of-office flexibility. Although the move to Zendesk occurred prior to the pandemic, Paystack allowed users to communicate via channels such as Instagram, which they were more accustomed to. For Stephen Amza, Zendesk was crucial in making things work faster with the API.
“Zendesk enables the user to build a workflow automating tasks without writing code, and catered to the individual business. This is vital to a business like Paystack that is constantly growing.” — Stephen Amaza, Customer Success Manager at Paystack
During lockdown in South Africa, Leroy Merlin couldn’t operate as usual. By the end of March, the business was completely shut down, including e-commerce which stayed closed for an entire month. Focus was thus shifted to research and development, investing into digital, e-commerce and marketplace solutions and reducing the time-to-market from several months to several weeks. Covid-19 was a catalyst which reaped incredible results during lockdown, as seen with successful triple-digit growth.
Before implementing Zendesk, Leroy Merlin was experiencing major contact centre problems. Customers lacked business information and were misguided by government updates. Customers searched various channels such as Google My Business, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as trusted news sources.
“Customers tried calling but unfortunately we failed to answer about 90% of the calls, as the legacy solution we were using did not really allow for this versatility and flexibility of using it from different locations, on different devices, working from home or wherever it is that you have Internet access. That was the catalyst for us to migrate to a modern solution like Zendesk and start being versatile and as flexible as possible for our customers”, Dimitriy adds.
Omnichannel: The importance of self-service for customer satisfaction
Covid-19 emphasised the fact that omnichannel was vital for Leroy Merlin to continue operations. Omnichannel is an external outlet which presents multiple channels to customers, but it does a lot more. For Dimitriy Anderson, retailers nowadays have to be omnichannel, internally and externally to provide a seamless experience to their customers. “And for us to be able to provide this external omnichannel experience to our customers, the channels that we use should also be provided to us in an omnichannel manner”, Anderson adds.
“Thankfully, Zendesk allows for both an internal and external omnichannel experience. It aggregates all our different channels, and we can go to one beautiful dashboard, which is our own internal omnichannel”. — Dimitriy Anderson, CIO and Market Director at Leroy Merlin South Africa
Paystack’s use of Zendesk Answer Bot connects a customer directly to a help centre, based on Zendesk Guide, with their query. It analyses the content of their question before finding articles that adequately answers their request. This improves the speed and time for each response so the user gets the answer they need easily, improving their overall experience.
“Definitely not everybody does go ahead and checks out the answers, but surprisingly lots still do. They indicate that their question has been answered and they can close their request right there. It’s not like we don’t enjoy talking to our consumers, but in their interest, considering speed and time, they can right there get the answers that they need, even if they did know that it existed somewhere”, Stephen explains.
APIs: Integrating varied solutions to aggregate context
Paystack connected with ProdPad to aggregate and categorise feature requests so users could be updated when their request was ready. With this method, requests couldn’t be directly sent to ProdPad because they were related to features that existed but weren’t widely known. Enters Zendesk. Its automatic integration identifies assets, puts tags in place and then fetches all necessary information for the user including their business and contact information before logging it on ProdPad. This innovative approach requires only one agent to solve the user’s request.
Leroy Merlin’s history goes as far back as 1923, so they have accumulated a legacy of systems, some of which are still present. Using the same APIs that are available from Zendesk , this gave Leroy Merlin leverage combining proven practices with modern components such as middleware to host cloud age.
“We were able to connect our legacy systems from the 80s and early 90s with a modern system like Zendesk and synchronize customer data live, which really helps”. — Dimitriy Anderson, CIO and Market Director at, Leroy Merlin South Africa
Successful customer service: Implementing a new strategy
For Dimitriy Anderson from Leroy Merlin, each employee is a customer experience ambassador. And at Leroy Merlin, each one of them is digitally enabled with a smartphone, an unprecedented move in Africa. Thanks to the versatility of Zendesk tools, and the accessibility of Zendesk Support App on smartphones, computers, laptops, and tablets, even more flexibility in customer experience is possible.
This form of technical connectivity is possible thanks to APIs, the aggregation of varied channels and contexts to consolidate communication and information. This ensures that tickets or incidents can be assigned with a higher rate of customer follow-up or follow-through.
Paystack emphasises the importance of extending the capabilities of Zendesk, a key solution to improve customer experience. Users can simply log into their dashboard or open an app to automate communication.
Customer service in Africa: What does the future look like?
Paystack understands the importance of customer success due to product development and customer communication. Building a well-rounded team of critical thinkers and problem solvers is a huge asset to any company, as employees are interacting with customers on a daily basis.
Leroy Merlin considers customer satisfaction a joint responsibility. As dedicated professionals, everyone is a customer experience ambassador. The future is focused on P2P–a major shift from an “egosystem” to an “ecosystem”. Brands like Leroy Merlin are no longer the middleman between suppliers and customers, they are B2B in direct human interaction. Community-based customer experience is the future where more experienced customers are capable of assisting newer customers who seek advice, regardless of the communication channel.
Both Leroy Merlin and Paystack have something in common: they see a challenge as an opportunity to improve. Customer experience is a rapidly evolving field and success necessitates a grand vision but also the right tools to ensure a seamless experience, both for customers and customer service agents.
“You can now hear customer experience ambassadors wherever you are, which is a life-changing experience for the customers, because we miss their requests less and less, we miss their calls less and less. And this is our goal: to keep them as happy as possible at any given moment”. — Stephen Amaza, Customer Success Manager at Paystack