Podcast: Achieving African enterprise maturity through key competency building

In the first episode of Infobip Africa’s BipGurus Podcast series, Dzifa Abodakpi, key account executive in Ghana, is joined by Yvonne Quashie, CX country head at UBA Ghana. Find out how African enterprises can achieve maturity through key competency building – especially in terms of CX expertise.

This podcast is available on a variety of platforms, including Apple Music and Google Music. Click here to access all the options.

Abbreviated Transcript:

We’ve seen cases of CX platooning all over the world. In Africa, the situation is similar but differs by region. According to The State of CX in West Africa Report by the Niche CX Group for English-speaking West African countries, such as Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Gambia, CX is still at its novice stage. The research indicates that while basic channels of customer interaction with relevant people, processes, and systems exist, there’s generally a reactive approach to CX. This is because there are huge lapses in customer service and sales experiences, which is the foundation of on which CX should be built on. This is also the reason why a clear CX strategy is generally lacking because businesses prioritize being reactive to being proactive.

What should CX professionals consider when developing a CX strategy?

Your CX strategy must first align with the organization’s objectives and goals. Whatever strategy you’re developing must be aligned to the organization’s objectives and goals.

It also must be simple. It must be well thought out, and it must be inclusive. You need to rope in other stakeholders from the onset. You need to get their buy-in and understand their perspectives so you can come out with something that is more appropriate and representative of the organization and its goals. So you’re not necessarily the one going to push for all these things to be done – you’re bringing the people together to drive this change or this strategy. It must be very inclusive and basically must be very well thought out. It must also be practical and achievable, which is the reason why you want to rope them in in the first place.

Another key thing you need to look at is the Voice of Business, which includes the Voice of the Customer, the Voice of the Employees, and the Voice of Process. This should be the basis on which the strategy is developed. You cannot do something for the customer without actually hearing from the customer. What does the customer want? What do your employees think the customer wants or what have they heard the customer say they want? What are your processes communicating to the customers? These are things you need to take a look at, understand, and use to build your strategy.

You also need to identify your enablers in the existing resources. If you want this to be practical, what will enable you to achieve this strategy? What will enable you to make this strategy active or implementable? Will you actually get access to your enablers? If you’re going to use technology to drive technology to drive this, do you have available technology to use? Do you have alternatives that you can use to achieve a similar goal? All these things need to be considered, looking at the existing resources to make your strategy something you can implement.

And then, finally, you need to communicate the strategy. If you don’t communicate in spite of having a good strategy, it will be shelved because there will be nobody to assimilate it. Nobody will even understand or buy into it. And what’s the point? The major aspect of you delivering this strategy is the people. You need the people to drive the strategy. You need the people to be able to effect whatever initiatives you come up with. You cannot do it as a CX professional alone.

I totally agree with you, because we increasingly notice from cases we have handled that customer experience strategies should be outcome driven and needs the foundation of a sound customer awareness and committed culture to thrive. So to my next question: How important is it for businesses in Africa to make tailored efforts towards building a CX maturity?

It’s extremely important. Contrary to popular belief, CX is not a nice to have anymore. It is a must-have. It is crucial for business survival. It is that binding component that will guide your business to deliver excellent and relevant products and services.

Being able to deliver this, these relevant services to customers will invariably guarantee that your business will grow and be sustainable. And that’s the ultimate aim for your business. Customer experience should be at the center of everything you do. Another reason why you need to develop your organization’s customer experience is that it will provide you an opportunity to be innovative. It will give you the opportunity to diversify.

So once you are consistently implementing customer experience strategies, you will see that you are going to get that feedback from your customers.

Remember we spoke about voice of the business?

Hearing from your customers and your employees gives an opportunity to diversify. It will open up more opportunities that you can leverage on so you can stay relevant to your customers. It also helps you to keep up with the evolving trends.

When you consistently analyze a well-designed Voice of Business, you will be able to optimize your processes and tie them to cost-saving initiatives. If you optimize your processes well and take out the things that you do not need, you are also delivering excellent service to your customers. You are now designing a well-oiled machine with a high efficiency and then a low cost of business. At this point, you can be sure that you’re getting the full benefit of customer experience. You’re maturing your customer experience. It’s extremely important for African businesses to know that we need to strategically grow our customer experience, mature our customer experience.

The Forester CX Essential Report breaks CX activities into six broad categories to play to improve CX. And these are: Research, prioritization, design, enablement, measurement and culture. Now, even with this recommendation, the types CX building competencies often seem daunting for African businesses, where CX champions struggle to make a business case for it. What would be your advice or words of encouragement for aspiring CX champions across Africa to overcome this challenge.

Customer experience it still an evolving discipline. It comes with its own inherent challenges. But there are a few things we will need to do as CX champions. The first thing I would say to anybody would be learn, learn, learn.

As customer experience champions, what are you doing to grow? To improve upon your knowledge base? You need to be deliberate in that you need to invest in that knowledge and it will hone that innate passion you have for customer experience and then guarantee your success in the field.

In Ghana, we have a Customer Experience Professionals Association. The major objective of this association is to develop the skills that people have. Yes, you have the innate skills, but what are you doing to develop yourself in that regard?

Another thing, too, is to practice what you learn and often preach. You might have learned and know that there’s the need for organization adoption. You might know that there’s a need for culture and you know that you need to measure. You might know your customer experience and your customer efforts for all of those things. But are you practicing them? Are you including them in your reports?

Organizational adoption across all levels is one of the big challenges. It requires a deliberate and consistent push, and to set the tone right from the onset. So as a CX champion, you must be seen to be living these standards. You cannot subject yourself to mediocrity. You cannot compromise on quality. And you always need to deliver more than expected. So if you’re telling people that they need to do XYZ, you need to do it yourself, because people will tend to see the impacts of this attitude in your work, and will also now gravitate towards that.

Another thing you need to know is you cannot give up. You cannot relent. In the beginning, you will struggle. You may start to feel frustrated because of some roadblocks. In fact, most of us CX professionals have been and are still going through that. It will take a while, but once you nail it, you just watch yourself and you see how your team will soar.

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Jul 20th, 2022
6 min read