South African start-up company SweepSouth brings technology to the cleaning services industry and is quickly revolutionizing the market while creating thousands of jobs for unemployed domestic workers.
SweepSouth is South Africa’s first online platform for booking, managing, and paying for home cleaning services at a date that suits you, from your laptop, phone or tablet. Within a few minutes, clients are connected with cleaning professionals known as SweepStars who go through a rigorous interview process and are experienced, reference, background, and criminal checked, and are also fully insured.
SweepSouth Co-Founder and CEO Aisha Pandor says that while the company provides a fast, convenient, and reliable platform for homeowners to book last minute, hassle-free cleaning services, “we also provide dignified work and flexible work opportunities at decent rates for some of South Africa’s domestic workers, of whom there are 1.2 million registered and over 200,000 actively seeking work. At the same time, we’re also giving access to technology to underserved communities and promoting the use of a phone as a tool to connect to work opportunities.”
Communication can be a challenge when trying to connect a two-sided marketplace of clients and SweepStars. “By virtue of their nature, the two sides use different platforms for day to day communication,” Pandor says. “As such, we take a multi-channel approach to ensure a seamless and integrated experience across channels. We also have large volumes of SweepStars and clients, and need to find cost-effective ways to message and market to both.”
You don’t need a smartphone to receive SMS messages and they can be delivered to even the most basic feature phone, irrespective of whether the phone user has access to airtime or data. This makes it the perfect medium to communicate with an emerging market who don’t yet have the means to communicate via other digital platforms.
SMS works perfectly for the on-demand nature of the service. As Pandor mentions, “SMS is a tool with a high delivery rate and that pushes notifications to mobile, which people constantly have on hand. This speaks to the need to notify clients of updates in real-time compared to something like email, which typically has more of a lag.”
The stats also tell a powerful story. A recent 2016 report showed that South Africa has more SIM cards than people, with 156% of the population having a mobile subscription while total mobile phone penetration is at 65%. In 2017, the country’s smartphone penetration is recorded as being at 36.2% of the population. With SMS, your message is being delivered no matter what making it an extremely powerful tool in this developing market. What’s more, it enjoys a near perfect open-rate – 98% of all SMS messages are opened and 90% of those are read within 3 seconds of being delivered!
Dubbed an Uber-like service for domestic cleaning services, SweepSouth uses Clickatell’s SMS messaging for both their clients and the SweepStars. When clients make bookings on the SweepSouth platform (either via the website or their app), SweepStars automatically receive an SMS notification to which they can then respond to accept the work opportunity. A few days prior to a booking, SweepStars automatically receive a reminder via SMS and clients are messaged with automated status updates. SweepSouth also uses bulk text messaging for special notifications and promotional messages to both clients and SweepStars.
“Clickatell is a well-known, stable, and well-established platform that caters for easy developer integrations into any phone or web application,” says Pandor. “Their SMS service is cost effective and we were able to integrate very easily into our existing workflows and notification pathways. The API was very straightforward with no additional support required.”
And make no mistake, Clickatell is just as enthusiastic about the implementation of SMS in the SweepSouth eco-system. The humble SMS is playing a key role in modernizing, formalizing, and changing the currently unstructured landscape of South Africa’s cleaning services industry and empowering South African domestic workers one SMS at a time.
Aisha Pandor - SweepSouth Co-Founder and CEO