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Paul Kent - Building the kind of business that lasts

Posted by Sureswipe on 18 October 2016

Sureswipe attended the Finance Indaba on the 13th and 14th October. We sat with our MD Paul Kent to discuss fintech, the Finance Indaba and doing better business.

Q: Why are events like the Finance Indaba important?

A: Events such as the Finance Indaba create a get platform to meet like-minded individuals from across the continent. It was particularly interesting to meet some of the continents Fintech Innovators.

Q: What topic did you speak on at the Finance Indaba?

A: My main focus at was the idea of building for scale. Today’s business models rely on scale and while technology provides scalable products, it is often the business itself that needs to scale. I shared some of the learnings from Sureswipe and how we are approaching and making use of technology internally to address scalability and the impact it has on our customers. The importance of building distribution networks, understanding service requirements and online vs physical presence.

Q: What are the challenges you can help finance professionals/firms/consumers with in 2016?

A: Access to services is problematic, when we consider payment acceptance less than 10% of transactions in Africa are electronic, in South Africa it is closer to 40% of transactions. With close to 100 million cards issued, the problem of adoption is not cards in circulation but acceptance points. We are focusing on ways to bring easy and accessible products to independent retailers irrespective of their size.

We are also looking specifically at the offerings that consumers and entrepreneurs may not be afforded by other providers in the industry as well as how to scale business to ensure that businesses and firms become exponential organisations of the future. This includes looking at the what and how businesses should look to their value chain to allow for efficiencies that ultimately allow for a simple and hassle free end user/customer experience

Q: How does Sureswipe "champion entrepreneurial growth”?

A: When we first entered the market in 2008, merchant fees were astronomically high and service levels shockingly low. Merchants would wait in excess of 30 days for the installation on a card machine and fees in excess of 5% were common.

We made a difference by providing access to superior services and a lower price. We are now moving into a new area where based on your card machine, transactional information or transactional flows we are adding value to the clients and helping them do better business.

Q: What are the keys to great customer service? 

A: It starts with building and having a client relationship with an understanding of your client. I’m from a family of retailers growing up in my grandfather’s shop and my wife owns retail stores, so I get a deep understanding of the challenges facing independent retailers.

Next is people - do we have the right people with the right attitude who can solve problems and connect with customers. I’m not only talking about employees in the service centre but employees across the organisation. People need to be empathetic, and really care about the organisation and the service they provide. In return the organisation should provide the right tools and the right level of autonomy or empowerment for employees to make decisions that impact customer service.

Then we have consistency. We often get caught up in trying to WOW a customer. The problem with this approach is it is usually inconsistent. The client has a WOW experience one day and a poor experience the next. Our approach has been to provide consistent service at every touch point along the customer journey.

Finally, communication.  Communicate with customers, especially when it is bad news and be brave and admit to your mistakes. Customers usually understand and appreciate the honesty.

Topics: fintech, smallbiz, Business, Growing Your Retail Business

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