- Contact was the first to apply the concept of installment inclusion in Egypt.
- In only nine months, we could digitally transform the past 20 years at the level of products and services.
- We recently launched Contact Whatsapp Business Chabot, which connects customer needs with artificial intelligence and machine learning.
- My advice to marketers in the consumer finance sector is to be faster and more risk-takers in doing something new, provided they adopt a strategy based on customers’ actual needs and the latest worldwide technologies in the market.
In alignment with the Egyptian government’s vision regarding financial technology and financial inclusion, Contact Financial Holding, Egypt’s largest non-banking financial services provider, managed to present an exemplary model to adapt global technology to the local market’s needs. It was able to create a mix & match between the working methodology of multinational companies and the mentality of the Egyptian consumer.
As the first company to obtain a license to practice consumer finance activity in Egypt, Contact sought to be a leader in this sector. That was manifest when the company recently restructured its range of products and services to enhance its presence and position in the non-banking financial sector.
Chief Marketing Officers magazine (CMOs) interviewed Yasmina Fahmy, General Manager of Marketing and Digital Transformation at Contact Financial Holding, to discuss its marketing strategy and how digital transformation helped enhance its presence and positioning in the non-banking financial sector.
Let’s delve into the interview…
First of all, we would like to know more about “Contact Financial Holding” and its services and products.
Contact Financial Holding is a financial group listed on the Egyptian Stock Exchange, established in 2001, and includes more than 25 subsidiaries represented by three arms. First is Contact Financial Services, the group’s largest division divided into two branches: “B2B”, which includes three sub-brands: leasing, factoring, and insurance brokerage; and “B2C”, which provides cars financing, trucks financing, finishing financing, consumer financing, and Mortgage Financing, and insurance brokerage.
The second arm is insurance, shared by both “B2B” and “B2C”. It includes two brands; Sarwa Insurance, a property insurance company, and Sarwa Life, a life and a medical insurance company.
The third is Contact Cars, a separate brand from Contact Financial Services and its digital arm for the automotive sector. The platform displays all car options and enables customers to contact suppliers directly, supported by Contact’s partnerships with all car dealers in Egypt, along with other auto services such as insurance, finance, and licensing through companies owned by Contact, each in its specialty.
Investment, represented by Sarwa Capital, is the fourth arm that includes many investment services such as securitization, Sukkuk, asset management, and other “B2B” investment services.
Contact also has many partnerships taking place this year, a partnership in the real estate sector with Sakneen, a website in which it owns an estimated stake of 50%. It displays real estate units available for financing by Contact, in addition to other partnerships with “El Ahli Sabbour”, “Premium Card”, and “2030”.
Moreover, a new partnership with Abo Ghali, launching Abo Ghali Finance which will start operation in 2022.
Recently Contact Financial Holding CEO and Managing Director – Mr. Said Zater has been elected as the chairman of the consumer finance federation of Egypt, which will add more focus on the consumer finance services in the upcoming period.
Regarding marketing strategy, what have Yasmina Fahmy added to “Contact Group” after taking over the group’s CMO and digital transformation?
For over twenty years now, Contact has been dominating the Egyptian market in the automotive sector. That’s why its name was associated with “Contact Cars” only. Now consumers have realized that Contact is an auto financing company and an integrated financial group with various sub-brands with fully-fledged financial services covering everything Egyptian consumers need.
There is another point concerning the change in customer centricity and communication tools. In the past, we used to communicate with customers only through call centers, which still exist so far. Now we have created interactive bilingual websites that include built-in customer-dedicated programs with interactive tools that give our customers a smoother and easier customer experience.
We have also launched a fully-fledged e-commerce smart mobile app with two versions in less than six months, including an e-commerce platform with multiple e-payment methods and customer loyalty programs that give our customers very rewarding vouchers, coupons, and points on each purchase. Further to the ability to calculate installments, apply for our products, view our merchants and branches GPS location, chat with us using our embedded WhatsApp business chatbot, and many other options that enabled us to enter people’s lives, educate them about our products, and engage with them by adopting an integrated digital transformation methodology that matches our customers’ needs. That ultimately reflected on the size of our business and our presence in the market, thus increasing profits.
Providing mobility in our services, we have also linked our external marketing activities—in all areas and governorates of Egypt—to the mobile app to reach the customer in any way. If he does not want to use our website or app, we will get him wherever he is. I do not think a company could accomplish all these achievements in such a short time as we did.
Does “Contact” intend to launch any new digital products or services within the next period as part of its digital transformation plan?
We have recently launched our “WhatsApp Business Chabot” built-in with artificial intelligence technology as an extra means of communication with customers, alongside our call center, website, mobile app, and social media.
We plan to launch Whatsapp Business Chatbot V2, which will automatically integrate with our database to display customers’ installments plans, offers, loyalty points, and many more within WhatsApp.
Also, we are in the process of launching mobile app V3 in 2022, which will include a mobile wallet inside and will be converted into a fully integrated fintech super app that will digitally connect customers with everything they might dream of and will include instant credit approval as part of our new fintech mobile app V3!
All of the above relates to the marketing strategy followed over the past two years. What was your plan for 2021?
Our strategy for 2021 consisted of two parts. The first relates to marketing, while the second relates to digital transformation, and then comes the arm that integrates both.
Having over 14 years of multinational experience in global technology firms such as Oracle and Orange Business Services along with having my digital transformation company “ESN” in the UK, London helped me focus – from the beginning – on integrating all subsidiaries of Contact by applying these global technologies side by side and Egyptianize them to make the best use of the technology in serving the business and consumer needs.
Hence, we can say that we have a tailored marketing strategy for every product and service we provide. Our marketing strategy focuses on digital. We added Orientation Channels that connect sales with artificial intelligence to customer service through a fully digital control panel, so the message reaches the customer in a fast and convenient way for him personally, not one that comforts the company only via Call Center.
How does “Contact” choose its marketing strategy?
Since each product has the traits that the customer is looking for, we have tailored special packages that suit each customer according to their needs.
For example, in the automotive sector, you will find that we are the only company that allows customers to choose among four or five different financial packages to meet the different customers’ needs with flexibility in the down payment, number of installments, with a reasonable interest rate. After selecting the appropriate package, the customer can apply for the purchase through the mobile app while the contract is sent to him by courier to be signed. Within 48 hours, he receives the approval online, and he can pay his installments online as well.
Let me tell you something; during the COVID-19 pandemic, we were one of the few companies that could fully implement digital transformation. Just nine months were enough for us to digitally transform the past 20 years at both levels (products and services). Even the insurance brokerage company was part of Contact’s transformation plan and integrated it into the mobile app.
The top management at Contact was brilliant in terms of adapting technology to market needs. They were able to make a mix & match between the way multinational companies think and what the customer needs in the local market since the Egyptian customer’s mentality is entirely different from its counterpart abroad. Therefore, implementing American and European latest technologies without Egyptianization would have been enough to spoil our strategy, a point that we paid attention to from the very beginning to ensure success on all levels.
It is worth noting that “Contact” has recently launched a new e-payment company, “Contact Pay”, to be added to its portfolio. We are also preparing to launch new products and services related to e-payment later in 2022.
Concerning the diversity in Egyptian society, do you face any challenges when targeting your audience?
If you look at our latest advertising campaigns, whether digital or on-ground, you will notice that there is nothing that the customer uses in his life that is not subject to installment through Contact. Therefore, we are the first to apply the concept of inclusion to installments, as we cover all installment tools at both levels of individuals and firms in Egypt.
For example, customers sometimes request services that we do not offer, such as financing tuition fees, but we already did in response and will always strive to meet all their needs, whatever they are. Even Contact’s shopping has become fully digital to facilitate finance of any service or product immediately through the national ID number on the mobile app.
We have raised our expectations from no digital over the past 20 years to extreme digital right now, with entirely new services, which increased the number of Contact’s companies and services. And despite the increase in competitors’, no one has the power of penetration, expansion, and know-how in terms of adopting technology and speaking the customer’s language as we do.
Six months ago, you launched an update to Contact’s mobile app that includes a loyalty program for customers. Would you tell us more about this update and the results achieved after it launched?
We have more than five customer motivation programs. One of the examples is our loyalty program which allows customers to earn points redeemable into discounts in their account when purchasing any of our products as well as many other programs, like brand ambassador program, customer’s referral program, Contact homes, Contact Clubs, and Education program.
Customer satisfaction is certainly an essential part of indirect marketing in the long run, so could you tell us how you measure it at Contact?
We measure it in different ways; social media surveys for our followers, opinion surveys in branches, phone-call surveys, on-ground surveys from our customers themselves, and the Competitor Intelligence Surveys, through which we measure customer satisfaction at the level of competitors and Contact itself. We collect all of that in reports upon which an action plan is created to raise customer satisfaction rates.
If you were to give any advice to marketers in consumer finance companies in the Egyptian market, what would you say?
My advice for them is to be faster and more risk-takers to do something new in the market. They should also egyptianize the globally successful technology to strike a balance between providing the best customer experience and fulfilling customers’ needs at the exact moment. Their strategy should be based on customers’ actual needs on the ground, using the global technology that is in line with Egyptian customer needs.