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IoT can fix bad service

The Future of Customer Service, are machines taking over? With the IoT, just about anything is possible, but don’t worry, it’s all about convenience and great service, says RICHARD CHETTY, Director of Customer Services for Samsung South Africa.

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In 1978, horror author Stephen King penned the book Trucks, which was made into the movie Maximum Overdrive a decade later. In it, machines come alive and begin to wage war with their makers. Definitely the stuff of nightmares, but also something that’s been played out in literature and films for many years. What if the machines or technology created by humans become so intelligent that they take over the world?

Already, there’s evidence that the algorithms written to serve advertising to specific target groups on social media platforms has gained its own intelligence that even the creators can’t quite understand. Techno-sociologist, Zeynep Tufekci, outlines this in her Ted Talk, ‘We’re building a dystopia just to make people click on ads’. But it’s not about machines and technology taking over. The advance of technology means that customer service has been taken to a whole new level.

Some drivers of luxury cars will already be familiar with the concept of the car alerting the driver to potential hazards or the need for a service. In fact, some cars even offer a concierge service, which can contact a service centre on your behalf should that be required. But, that still requires human intervention. Calling a service centre and trying to find time in a full diary to get something fixed means that a lot of people put such things off until it’s a matter of urgency because the device, appliance or product has stopped working.

Richard Chetty, Director of Customer Services for Samsung South Africa, says, “Samsung’s people-centred focus is what drives the innovative technology we create. With every new product, a novel set of customer service opportunities arise. The IoT certainly brings an exciting dimension to how we will respond to connected products and customers.”

What if your appliance could contact the service centre on your behalf? That’s what the future of customer service looks like. Soon, all home appliances will be connected – to the internet and each other. Smart appliances are already able to self-diagnose. In the future, this self-diagnosis sensor will initiate a service request. All this could happen without the user having to even know about it. With connected appliances, a service technician could access the appliance remotely and assess what needs to be done. Only if a physical interaction with the appliance is required, will the user need to get involved.

“There is an opportunity now for increased skills upgrading – in the future, there will be less requirement for ordinary call-centres and more required for specialised technicians within the customer service space. People won’t have to contact a call centre for information, the appliance will have everything stored – from warranties to service plans and history. We are gearing up for this future with our Engineering Academies and look forward to embracing the new ways we can service our customer’s needs,” concludes Chetty.

Far from taking over the world, the IoT is more likely to organise the world. With all the administrative tasks taken out of user’s hands and placed into a highly sophisticated communication system, people will inevitably have more free time to simply do life.

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Netflix lifts lid on first Nigerian Original

The streaming giant is set to increase its investment in Nigerian and African entertainment

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Back row (From L-R): Banky W, Ted Sarandos (Netflix Chief Content Officer), Kate Henshaw, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Felipe Tewes (Netflix Italian & African Originals Director), Omoni Oboli, Ben Amadasun (Netflix Africa Licensing Director) and Akin Omotoso Front Row (L-R) Mo Abudu, Adesua Etomi, Dorothy Ghettuba (Netflix African Originals lead) , Kunle Afolayan, Kemi Adetiba and Ramsey Noah.

The working title is the “Akin Omotoso Project”, but the world will soon get to know it by a snappier title. It is the first African original scripted series from Nigeria commissioned by Netflix. To be directed by Akin Omotoso, with Daniel Oriahi and CJ Obasi, it is planned to be a six-part series.

Netflix this week announced that it will increase its investment in Nigeria’s creative community, starting with the Akin Omotoso Project,

The series will star Kate Henshaw and Ade Laoye in leading roles, alongside other Nollywood greats and fresh faces, such as Richard Mofe Damijo, Joke Silva, Fabian Adeoye Lojede, Kehinde Bankole, Ayoola Ayolola, Toyin Oshinaike, Goodness Emmanuel, Ireti Doyle, Fabian Adeoye Lojede, Bimbo Akintola, Tope Tedela and Ijeoma Grace Agu.

Set in modern-day Nigeria and shot in Lagos, this drama tells the story of Kemi, a goddess reincarnated as a human to avenge her sister’s death. But first, she must learn how to use and harness her superpowers to defeat her enemies and save her family from destruction. The series will be produced by Rififi Pictures.

Over the last year, Netflix has started to invest in the creative community – bringing Nigerian stories to audiences all around the world. These include: popular movies such as Merry Men, The Real Yoruba Demons, The Wedding Party 2, King of Boys; Nollywood classics like The CEO, October 1 and The Figurine; and films by renowned Nigerian director, Kunle Afolayan, such as Mokalik. These much loved Nigerian movies will join Nollywood favorites such as Chief Daddy, Lion Heart and box office hit, The Bling Lagosians.   

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer said: “Movies like King of Boys, Merry Men and The Bling Lagosian have shown how much our members love Nigerian movies. So we’re incredibly excited to be investing in Made in Nigeria stories – bringing them to audiences all around the world”. 

Dorothy Ghettuba, who leads African Originals at Netflix, said: “I’m excited that in the same week that we’re launching Queen Sono, we had the opportunity to be here in Lagos with Nigerian storytellers to share plans of our first Nigerian original production. Our continent has a wealth of diversity, multiplicity and beauty in stories that have yet to be told and we want to be top of mind for creators in Nigeria, especially when it comes to stories they haven’t had a chance to tell yet.” 

Last month, Netflix enabled Nigerian members to pay for its service in Naira – making it easier for subscribers to use Netflix. Members can enjoy a wide range of diverse, quality entertainment, including African Originals like Queen Sono, which launches this Friday, 28 February. Other African Originals launching this year include Blood & Water and Mama K’s Team 4. 

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Load-shedding generator could blow your insurance

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Load shedding is going to remain a reality in South Africa for at least the next 18 months as Eskom conducts maintenance on its ageing power plants – but don’t go rushing off to buy your own alternative power supply without first checking how it’ll affect your home insurance.

That’s the warning from King Price’s partner of client experience, Wynand van Vuuren, who says it’s vital that alternative power supplies like generators are installed and certified by accredited electricians. If these devices are installed or used incorrectly, you might not be covered for any damages that may result.

“There’s been a huge upsurge in the number of people using portable generators to keep a few basic essentials going when the power goes off,” says Van Vuuren. “But what most people don’t know is that you’ve got to have them installed professionally by an electrician. You can’t just stick your generator in the garage with an extension cord running through the window.”

Here are Van Vuuren’s top tips for staying covered and charged safely during load shedding.

Do your homework

Know what your alternative power options are, and the pros and cons of each.

An inverter changes DC power from a battery into AC power that you can use to operate all kinds of devices. Obviously, it needs a battery pack to be useful. These batteries are either charged by solar or from the grid while the power is on.

A portable generator is a little generator on wheels that you see people buying in their dozens at Makro and Builders Warehouse over the weekend. They’re relatively cheap and easy to operate, but can’t keep big appliances running.

Stationary generators are usually slightly bigger units that are installed permanently, and switch on automatically when the power goes off. They’re more expensive, but have greater capacity.

Stay safe – and covered

Apart from keeping your lights on, the different power options all have one thing in common: they must comply with safety guidelines, and be installed by a professional.

“I know of guys who take their portable generators to a different mate’s house every weekend so they can watch the rugby during load shedding,” says Van Vuuren. “It’s not as smart an idea as you think: not only is the generator not covered, but any possible damage caused by the generator won’t be covered either, because it’s not properly installed.”

It’s also essential that portable generators are operated in open areas with good air flow, to prevent carbon monoxide build-up, and that fuel is stored safely in an area with adequate ventilation.

Keep your bases covered

If you’re using a generator or an inverter, make sure they power your electric fence, gate and alarm as well, as burglars are all too quick to exploit opportunities caused by power outages. If you don’t have an alternative power supply, make sure your fence, gate and alarm have a battery back-up that’s sufficient to see you through your darkest moments.

Oh, and make sure your generator’s insured as well, in case it’s stolen or struck by lightning. You would typically insure a portable generator under your home. A stationary (standby) generator becomes a fixed fitting once installed and must, therefore, be added to your buildings cover.

Beat the downs with UPS

Another major headache for South Africans is the power surge that can happen when the power is switched back on after load shedding, with big-ticket appliances like dishwashers, televisions, fridges, coffee machines and sound systems all at risk.

“We’ve seen claims for ‘fried’ computer equipment, appliances and even distribution boards caused by power surges,” says Van Vuuren. “This can be avoided by installing a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) – which doesn’t come cheap – but is advisable to at least protect costly items, like TVs and sound systems, and items with intrinsic value, like laptops.

“The other alternative is to manually disconnect your more sensitive appliances from the power supply and reconnect them after the electricity is switched back on.”

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