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Business Rx: In need of advice for good customer service

The Entrepreneur

When Mondiu Ladejobi’s uncle died in Nigeria, he wanted to send money for the funeral. But the process of using a wire transfer service to send the money was inconvenient and plagued with poor service. Ladejobi was frustrated, and he knew many others in his situation were, too. He began exploring how to tackle the problem.

Ladejobi teamed up with Shade Adeyosoye. They are in the prototype phase of Payvius, a solution that will allow consumers to use mobile technology to transfer money.

The pitch


“Payvius is an international mobile money transfer service that helps beneficiaries’ lower the costs of accessing micro-finance in developing economies by leveraging mobile and cloud technology to reduce money-transfer overhead costs. Payvius was launched out of frustration with available money transfer solutions — which are expensive, inconvenient for both senders and recipients and often hampered by poor customer service.

“Whenever I send money to family and friends overseas, I always leave the experience disappointed, shaking my head and thinking there just has to be a better way. We are focused on helping millions of hard-working migrants and immigrants here in the United States save on the costs of sending international money transfers, making more money available for their loved ones overseas. Payvius then leverages these money transfers to empower recipients to become economically self-sufficient.

“Payvius is currently seeking funding to develop a proof-of-concept focusing on a country in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Granted, there are numerous challenges to overcome as a legal money transfer operator — regulatory licensing and auditing, security measures to combat fraud and anti-money laundering, significant capital investment requirements. These are all natural barriers of entry that can be quantified and controlled to some extent. What is more challenging will be what we cannot directly control — the end experience for recipients overseas.

“These money transfers are primarily going to cash-based economies where technical infrastructure is still evolving. We will have to rely on partnerships with leading mobile money players at the destination to close the transfer loop. Establishing these relationships is going to be a key part of our business model as we expand operations to different countries. How do we impress upon our overseas partners the importance of maintaining superior customer service? Are there any accountability measures we can employ?

The advice

Elana Fine, managing director, the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship

“Define a very specific training process for bringing on new partners. Think of it like your own ‘Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval,’ and come up with specific incentives and measures to ensure your partners live up to your expectations. Potential incentives for partners could include a revenue-share model for repeat customers.

“To keep partners accountable, consider implementing a simple text survey for users. Or you could incorporate something along the lines of eBay’s power-seller model, where partners with the highest levels of customer service are the most recommended. You also need to come up with a quick remedy to reprimand or cut ties with partners that don’t live up to your standards.

“The larger issue for you is determining where customer service fits into your value proposition. I don’t know that you need to solve for superior customer service with your international partners — you just need to make sure people get their money. Your value proposition is on the U.S. end, where customer service is an issue for people sending the money. For people sending funds, ease of the transaction and customer service is critical and something you can control. You do absolutely need to find trustworthy partners on the other end — you don’t want to worry they are embezzling money — but keep in mind that there might be a lower bar on the other end of the transaction and you might not need to focus on customer service beyond guaranteeing receipt of funds.”

The reaction


“You are absolutely correct when you suggest the larger issue is determining where customer service fits in our value proposition — for Payvius we consider this a major part of our differentiation. Accountability is essential, and we agree that we need to come up with a fair and quick process for severing ties with partners who do not meet our standards. We will certainly incorporate your feedback and suggestions in future discussions with partners both in the U.S. and overseas.”



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