It’s safe to say that iKhokha is one of the earliest companies to introduce card machines in South Africa. In a region which isn’t particularly tech-savvy, to innovate and bring forth a fintech product for entrepreneurs (merchants), and record 300% growth in just four years of founding isn’t a simple feat. And that’s what makes this company’s journey interesting. “For the first two years, we grew at around 70% because we faced several challenges. Primarily, our founders wanted to focus on digital marketing as a core strategy to sell our products, but our investors’ weren’t on the same page with us,” recalls Sassoon Muller, Head – Data and Analytics, iKhokha.
Eventually, the team did get a go ahead, and gradually, year three saw a 150% growth, a number which doubled the following year. Of course, digital marketing wasn’t the only contributing factor to this expansive growth. “We enhanced our product features, we hired specialists to manage specific divisions of our business, and we set the right work culture in place, which were also key contributing factors to this,” she explains.
It’s when iKhokha took an aggressive approach to drive sales through digital marketing, arose a need to manage inbound leads; hence began the search for a telesales team, and eventually, a CRM.
iKhokha’s goal is to empower retail entrepreneurs or merchants in South Africa to accept chip cards and contactless Tap & Go payments. While on one hand, the company sells card machines at low cost, on the other, the machines connect to a phone and allow users to view settlements and manage refunds, manage products and staff, access unsecured working capital within three months of trade, and more. “Where we stand out is, unlike traditional card machines sold by banks, our devices aren’t expensive and there aren’t fixed monthly costs associated with it. In fact, our key goal is to enhance the SME segment interaction with financial technology,” adds Sassoon.
During the early days, the company heavily relied on physical sales. But, once the digital component started setting in, close to 80% of its leads started coming through online channels. “We typically use Facebook and Google as key channels to drive marketing,” notes Sassoon. As the company invested more funds into digital marketing, it realized that there will be a backlog of leads, and it will need more agents and a process in place to manage them. “So, as a first step we hired telesales agents. Then, we scouted for a CRM specifically for these agents,” adds Sassoon.
iKhokha evaluated Salesforce, Hubspot and Pipedrive, along with Freshsales, and found the former three CRMs to be very expensive. “It did not make sense for us to undergo a massively expensive integration when we were not even sure if our approach would work. Plus, we were, at that point, just a startup,” recalls Sassoon. She further adds that the API integration functionalities were also not very flexible. “Pipedrive, specifically, didn’t have the functionality we required in order to manage our staff and leads optimally,” she adds.
The leads come in through three sources; Facebook and Google, and Freshchat. If it’s through the former, once the lead clicks on the ad and fills out a form, an API is triggered and the lead is added to Freshsales. Specifically for Facebook, iKhokha uses a Zapier integration to add the lead into the CRM. Alternatively, if the lead visits their website directly, he/she has an option engage with the company’s chat agents, for both sales and support. “Once we collect the merchant details through the form, we secure the necessary documents from them, we send it to our FICA team, who then screen their credentials. However, if a pre-approved merchant visits our website, we immediately add them as a lead into the CRM,” explains Sassoon.
In fact, to eliminate the manual process involved in emailing the FICA team with related documents, the company recently integrated Freshsales with Freshdesk. “Instead of manually emailing them, telesales agents can simply re-assign the lead and their corresponding documentation to someone in the FICA team by creating a ticket on Freshdesk. Plus, with the integration, it can all be accessed within the CRM itself,” she says.
The conversation with Sassoon takes a different turn when we come to the subject of lead scoring. While iKhokha doesn’t use the feature extensively today, they have an elaborate plans in place to make the feature more engaging. Currently, its data team has segmented its merchant base into different buckets; like power users and base users, and it is in the process of analyzing merchant characteristics in each group. “For example, if a merchant is in the age group of 30-40, has a registered business, and operates in the retail sector, he/she is more likely to be a high-income prospect, as compared to one in an older age group, whose business is relatively small,” explains Sassoon. In other words, the team is attempting to use this characterization as benchmark to assign scores to incoming leads. “This is something we want to incorporate into Freshdesk as well. Once a lead is assigned with a score, and when a ticket is created corresponding to the lead, our support team can prioritize and reach out to high-value customers first,” she says.
Continuing further, she adds that another feature the team at iKhokha uses frequently is reports. “Typically some parameters we measure is number of deals closed per month, deals closed by sources, lead sources, sales by industry, and more,” she adds.
Going forward, the company, aside from setting up Freshdesk and using it more actively, will be looking at integrating Freshsales with other platforms and tools to enhance business efficiency. “That being said, overall, with Freshsales, Freshdesk and Freshchat, our experience has been great so far! I love the platform!” she exclaims, on an ending note.