The United Democratic Movement (UDM) is pioneering the use of cell phone technology to attract and retain members.
The political party has set up a sophisticated customer relationship managment (CRM) system that allows users of the most basic technology to interact with it.
People wishing to join the party can do so by simply sending their identity number via SMS to 34242. Their citizenship is checked automatically and they receive an SMS welcoming them to the UDM. The R10.00 membership fee is automatically deducted from their airtime.
This initial contact is followed up by a telephone call whereby all the new members' information is gathered on to the system and his membership card is dispatched.
Thereafter, the cell phone becomes an important communication tool between the party and its members.
Not only can the party send out news flashes, alerts or information to members' cell phones – based on their geographic location – but members can also communicate with the party.
For instance, members can draw the UDM's attention to service delivery issues via SMS – and the system will ensure that these queries are escalated to the person within the party best able to deal with it.
And – importantly – the party can interact with its members on the status or resolution of their query.
The cell phone communication media is part of the party's communication strategy, which also includes a Web site (www.udmconnect.co.za).
The cell phone, however, has the advantage of being almost ubiquitous among South African users.