Accelerating growth through customer experience: Talking CX with industry players and advocates at the CXP Ghana Conference

the Customer Experience Agenda
Kojo Manuel

Last Thursday, 6 October 2022, was a memorable day. There was a second Customer Experience Conference taking place at the Labadi Beach Hotel Accra. This follows the first of its kind run last year at the same venue. In attendance were major industry players actively engaged in Customer Experience, advocates, proponents and key drivers of the Customer Experience agenda in Ghana; notably President Esther Dokuuwa Ofosuhene, Vice-President Kojo Dugan, and their team from CXP Ghana.

The conference’s theme was ‘Accelerating Growth through Customer Experience: The Case of Organizations and Industry’. The programme line-up included a welcome address by the president of CX Ghana, Esther Dokuuwa Ofosuhene. She was very brief and straight to the point, concluding with the following words of Henry Ford: ‘Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, and working together is success’. “Akwaaba to the annual CXP conference, let’s Talk CX!” Her clarion call thus set the tone for the day’s events.

The follow-up to her message was a welcome address by the Association’s patron, Margaret Takyi-Micah – founder of Customer Service Academy.  In her words: “The time for change has come, the age of arrogant business has ended; Ghana, are you ready, because Customer Experience Ghana is ready”.  According to her, COVID-19 changed how we engage customers and CXP Ghana is ready – through research and insight gathering, skills, knowledge and competencies – to innovate better solutions to fulfil the brand promise.

The conference was laden with a bevy of experts in the Customer Experience space, both local and international. The host was George Sappor, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, supported by Nana Akua Abroampa, Broadcast Journalis-Media General, who moderated the panel discussions and together ran the ship all morning, keeping us fully engaged.

There were presentations and panel discussions as well as Q and A follow-ups from the audience to complement thoughts shared by our experts. The line-up was as follows. First was the keynote address on the Future of Customer Experience by Bruce Temkin, Head of Qualtrics XM Institute, USA; and a presentation by Georges Essana on The State of CX in Africa and its Challenges. Second was an address by Franklin Sowa, the Guest Speaker who delivered on Customer Experience and its Association with Marketing.

Third was a panel discussion on Accelerating Growth through Customer Experience – The Case of Industry. Fourth was a presentation on driving Customer Experience through Contact Centres, and fifth a panel discussion on Accelerating Growth through Customer Experience – The Case of Organisations.

Future of CX  

Bruce had warm words for us: “Let’s talk CX because CX Ghana is ready!” He touched on the fact that CX has been here for a decade on the global scene. Here in Ghana, we are 2 years since inception. To borrow the words of Margaret Takyi-Micah: “It is said in the Good Book, do not despise small beginnings”. Bruce shared some insightful thoughts. According to him, Experience Management is about the capability needed to deliver unique experiences to our customers.

In his words, for decades we have been thinking about People, Process and Technology as the ultimate answer. However, in reality what we have been focusing on are Process and Technology. This is because people are complicated while Process and Technology are reliable and dependable. Thus, according to him, Experience is how we apply the process and technology to people. COVID helped the transformation around experience. The experience is focused on people variously – i.e. employees, customers, partners, etc.

He shared the analogy of a ship. According to him, the navigator of a ship while on the ocean can put in a course for a couple of hours and not have to pay close attention for some time because there’s not a lot of change that needs to happen; however, if that ship were to enter a canal he would need pay closer attention to ensure it doesn’t go off-course. This is the same with CX; in helping our organisations, we need agility to keep our CX agenda on course.

We need to operate in the canal-mode as we deal with a lot more uncertainties in CX. It requires a deeper understanding of what is going on around our touch-points, as we must do more navigating.

To shift from tracking and trending (open-ocean navigation) to (canal navigation) we must learn to pick up signals quicker (build agility) and get our organisations to respond. According to him, the data for bad experiences are compelling. The bad experience costs companies US$4.7trn globally. A lot of money is lost because of a bad experience. People with good experience are 2.6 times more likely to repurchase and 3.7 times more likely to recommend – and 3.3 times more likely to trust a company.

Thoughts shared by Bruce resonated with contributions from Franklin Sowa of Graphic Communications Group, who took time to walk us through the marketing perspective. He posited that the experience is cross-functional. We must be open to engaging across the organisation if we want to be successful in CX, we should not be myopic. He highlighted some benefits like good experience means satisfied customers, and satisfied customers become promoters (strategy); therefore every touch-point must deliver value – a simple thing such as parking can upset customers.

Ben Atitsogbui, CEO of RayCom Technologies, shared some thoughts on Contact Centre Technologies for supporting the Customer Experience. With increased competition, companies must provide superior customer experience to stand out from the crowd. However, regardless of the power of technology, human involvement is key. Leveraging automation helps mitigate the cost of delivering CX.

The state of CX in Africa

The second (virtual) presenter Georges Essama posed the question “what vision do you have for your company in the next 5 – 10 years”. What you are doing now will determine how you achieve that vision. This, according to him, will depend on the state of CX-maturity in the business. He quoted Jim Carlzon, author of the Book Moments of Truth: “We imposed one condition on ourselves, we will not achieve short-term profitability by doing what others did; we will become profitable by providing the best service in the market, thereby increasing our share…being known as the best customer service airline in the world for frequent business travellers”.

He quoted an African proverb to support his assertion: “If you do not know where you are going, remember where you came from”. He asserted that if you want to be the best in customer service you need to understand the baseline of how organisations are performing and, more importantly, focus on the long-term if you want to be among the best customer-focused organisations, taking a cue from Jim Carlzon’s mantra. He shared results from CXPA research conducted over the period 2019 to 2022 depicting the CXPA journey from inception (adoption of strategy document highlighting priorities) to celebration of the 11th anniversary (launch of leadership councils).

The framework for research encompassed key areas of customer-centricity, accountability, CX strategy, and customer insights. The participation threshold from Africa was 35% drawn from banking, insurance, healthcare, education, utilities, travel and government. Questions asked included the extent to which you believe that your organisation is focused on the customer, realisation of rewards, to alignment among departments in organisations. The average response on a scale of 1 to 10 was 6. He highlighted challenges such as visions wherein organisations have very little interest in the customer, and only 15% of companies in Africa have a Chief Customer Officer at the C-Table.

He emphasised the need to strengthen the connection between strategy and operations, involving more departments in the CX agenda as well as accelerating the adoption of CX best practices. He concluded that African organisations need to improve their practices to become more customer-centric.

Accelerating growth – The Case of industry

This was the theme for the first panel discussion. The discussants were Odelia Ntiamoah, CEO-SnB Group; Jennis Asiamah of Jennis and Warmer; and Rene Vincent-Ernst, MD-Labadi Beach Hotel. The moderator set the ball rolling by asking some poignant questions about CX in our local industry. Thoughts shared included the need to place a premium on CX, putting the customer first. It’s about committing to implementation, looking beyond the plan, and making your CX operational.

In challenging times, how do you deal with the experience? Although money is important, we must understand that money hasn’t got emotions, customers do – therefore we must invest time to train our employees, as it is important to understand our customers. The training must be fit for purpose to ensure that the investment is worthwhile, this is key – training is everything.

Furthermore, we must communicate; people are passionate when they know what they are selling. How do you know when to stop spending in your CX? Some participants shared their thoughts. Cost is inevitable; however, an important lesson here is that people don’t buy goods and services anymore… they buy experiences.

There was an analogy given about selling water. If 2 shops are selling water, one will willingly come over and sell to you while the other shop does not bother. A situation like this can be a game-changer, as customers will be drawn to the shop that pays more attention and engages the customer.

It doesn’t cost anything to pass on the experience. Companies must develop their backend to support frontline operations. It is not just about money. CX is not a job, it is a way of life.  Times may be tough, but it doesn’t cost anything to develop great experiences.

Accelerating Growth – The Case of Organisations

The participants were Angela Mensah-Poku, Director for Commercial and Digital Business-Vodafone; Francis Gota, MD-Ayo Intermediaries; and Kofi Frempong, VP of Enterprise Solutions and Strategy Medallia, USA. They shared variously from their experiences. They opined that it is important to listen to your customers as they are always giving you real-time feedback. Be humble enough to hear what customers are saying; the good, bad and ugly (passives and detractors); the goal is to improve on the bad and ugly.

One way to track the experience is through analytics. Develop capabilities to pick-up patterns and address them, using how-to videos to highlight customer pain-points and address them. Capture customer feedback on different channels; Medallion captures these over language barriers. Internationally, these include the use of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to recognise intonations, etc. It’s about capturing data and getting insights. Using these tools, companies can capture insights proactively (my words) and initiate actions.

The critical areas mentioned are culture, which has to be from the top down and bottom up. In the bank, tellers have to see what customers say about them. It is about democratising the data to bring transparency, and this organically improves internal culture. It starts from the onboarding process, where the talk is about you and how you connect with the company. This is shared with customers.

Furthermore, it’s about earning customer loyalty. This is everybody’s job; we must all be incentivised for that. Feedback is addressed by the individual who receives it, every touch-point must be alert to customer needs. There are also punitive measures in reaction to customer complaints. These are picked out and analysed by a panel to understand what happened and what can be done better. It is a whole 360 top-bottom process, and everyone should be strong on customer issues.

Additionally, trust is important. Customers must feel that every issue will be dealt with comprehensively. The top emotions picked by the panel were value and trust; trust, love and pride. Certainly not romantic love, it was emphasised!  Also, employee experience is critical. You connect your employees to the experience, and when they are aligned your employees will embrace CX wholeheartedly. This is achieved through bespoke training.

The CXP Ghana 2022 conference was a great experience. To reiterate Esther’s words when she quoted Alice Walters: “This is the power of gathering: it inspires us, delightfully, to be more hopeful, more joyful, more thoughtful: in a word, more alive”. The future of CXP Ghana is very bright.

The Writer is a Management Consultant. He can be reached at 059 175 7205, [email protected],





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