In a world of CX, there are countless unsung heroes making remarkable strides. In Part 1 of this edition of CX Spotlight, we shine a spotlight on one of these heroes in the person of Evelyn Acquah Chief Customer Officer, ABSA Bank:
Meet Evelyn, The CX trailblazer who has been at the helm of Absa Bank Ghana as Chief Customer Officer since September 2020. Prior to this, she was the Head of Customer Segments And Affluent Banking, where she honed her skills in developing and owning the Customer Value Propositions for the bank’s most discerning clients.
With over 18 years in Banking and Finance, Evelyn has become a seasoned pro in product design and rollout, as well as managing customer value propositions and customer lifecycles. Throughout her career, she has held various positions, including Corporate Manager, Project Manager, and Head of Products and Development in retail banking.
Evelyn’s academic credentials are equally impressive, with an International Executive MBA in Strategic and Project Management from the prestigious Paris Graduate School of Management, and a BSc. Degree in Administration from the esteemed University of Ghana, Legon. She also holds a certification as a Product Manager from the Association of International Product Marketing & Management (AIPMM).
But what truly sets Evelyn aside is her passion for leadership and learning. She has received training in leadership from Duke Corporate Education in South Africa and is a proud product of the African Development Initiative. As a CX trailblazer, Evelyn is committed to pushing the boundaries and setting new standards for customer experience in the banking industry.
Conversation with Evelyn…
CXP Gh – Can you describe your journey to your current role?
Evelyn – I started my career as an Assistant Economist at the Ministry of Finance & Economic Planning in 2003 before joining Barclays Bank in 2004 on a Leadership Trainee Programme. Over the last 18 years, I have held several positions in Retail/Corporate Manager’s Assistant and Project Manager. I subsequently became Product Manager and was instrumental in setting up the Product Management function, heading a team of 5 Product Managers responsible for developing and managing products for the Consumer market. After 7 years in this role, I became Head of the Affluent Segment, responsible for Customer Segments and Value Propositions for the Retail function at Barclays Bank. I had the opportunity to act as Consumer Director on different occasions, which built my leadership skills. All these experiences helped prepare me for my current role. I also had the unique opportunity to work on customer propositions, running insights to inform strategy and product development; all these experiences helped prepare me for my current role. Mine has been a constant conveyor-belt of learning and reinventing myself to my key stakeholders.
CXP Gh – What is your personal mantra or statement?
Evelyn – I am a committed Christian, who believes she can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I am in competition with no one but myself; striving daily to be a better version of myself. I believe in actions and not just words. When the chips are down, it is the results you deliver which speak for you.
CXP Gh – Can you share your leadership style and its impact on success?
Evelyn – I am a firm believer in Authentic Leadership. This comes with leading; With Purpose, With Values and principles, From the heart, Cultivating and nourishing long-term relationships and walking the talk, by demonstrating excellence through self awareness and discipline. As a leader, you achieve success through people, so you must have a purpose that your people can align with, and then model the values and principles that you espouse. Critically, I believe one must constantly build and nourish relationships across all levels within and outside the organization. When you strive for excellence in every endeavor you undertake, success naturally follows you. This becomes your personal brand. For me, this is how I win, carrying the people along the journey and the vision, showing them what success looks like, and motivating them each day to strive for excellence and be better versions of themselves.
CXP Gh- What are your thoughts on the state CX in Ghana?
Evelyn – Ghana has a big room for improvement when it comes to CX. For private institutions such as financial service providers, Telcos and Hoteliers, I would say positive strides have been made in recent times by looking at the work CXP Ghana and other industry practitioners continue to do to improve the level of of service delivery to clients. However, we need to work harder to match the pace of our customers, as their needs and expectations become more dynamic each day. We need the State Agencies to also raise their game, hence, institutions like CXP Ghana are very crucial for Ghana going forward. We need to be the voice that continuously speaks about why CX matters and the impact it can have on the country’s overall GDP. If we speak about the Tourism sector, for instance, becoming a bigger contributor to the country’s revenue generation, we need to seriously look at the we give customers from the waakye seller to the receptionist at a 5-star hotel to the tour guide in the deep bush. I believe we have a lot of work to do but i am happy to say it’s a journey we have started and we will keep moving forward.
CXP Gh – How do you determine the success of your CX strategies?
Evelyn – For me the ultimate determinant of the success of strategy is what my customers say. I am constantly evealuating responses from Voice of the Customer (VOC) and Voice of the Employee (VOE) programmes aligning them with strategy execution to measure whether outcomes are meeting customer expectations. Recognition from external independent bodies also help to measure how successful your strategies are. These awards tend to validate your efforts and define the trajectory you are on.
CXP Gh – How do you keep up with the latest CX trends and technology?
Evelyn – Joining an association like CXP Ghana helps you to keep up to date due to the platforms available for constant engagements. I also have a diverse team of young and talented individuals who are always looking for the next big thing in CX. I share ideas a lot with my team to help us stay abreast of new trends. On the tech side, one of the closest people I work with is the Chief Enablement/Information Officer in my organization. This helps to bring me in to the picture in terms of what is trending in the tech world. Lastly, I also do my own self-learning and mystery shopping when engaging with vendors and service providers just to get a sense of what is trending.
CXP Gh – What is your approach to solving problems in your role and prioritizing tasks and projects?
Evelyn – I collaborate effectively with all stakeholders in order to arrive at a solution that puts the customer first and improves their experience. This requires that I build relationships and get colleagues to understand the importance of a win-win situation. Ultimately, we exist to solve problems and provide solutions for customers, so we don’t see problems as challenges but as opportunities to add value and be relevant to our clients. This requires a lot of courage and resilience because typically, most organizations consider the bottom line first and will always advance the course which brings the most returns. However, my contribution ensures that we focus on customer-impacting projects as this ultimately leads to revenue and sustainable growth.
CXP Gh – How have you contributed to advancing CX in your current position?
Evelyn – Even before my current role, I had the benefit if running several projects aimed at improving customers’ experiences by listening to them and harnessing their feedback to inform product development and strategy. I championed the concept of Customer Lifecycle Management (CLM) set up for Barclays Africa and as Head of Affluent Segment, I worked to develop and introduce Customer Value Propositions for high-net-worth clients. I am currently focused on being the customer’s voice at the executive decision-making table, driving cultural transformation aimed at putting customers first at all decision-making levels. I have also been involved in mentoring the next generation of leaders within my organization and tertiary institutions about the value CX brings to organizations and countries.
CXP Gh – Can you highlight any notable achievements in the CX space?
Evelyn – Championing the concept of Customer Life Management (CLM) set up for Barclays Africa, Best performing franchise in CX for CIB and RBB in Absa ARO – 2021, 2020/2022 – 3rd Best Retail Bank in CX – KPMG, 2021/2022 – 2nd Best Bank in CX – Ghana Customer Service Index, 2021 – 5 star ratings in Customer Satisfactions – Banking – CIMG, innovated and rolled out the Ultimate account, a deposit product with embedded Insurance which won the Best Deposit Product in West Africa by the Asian Banker in 2019.
CXP Gh – How do you collaborate with other departments to achieve CX goals?
Evelyn – Collaboration is key to delivering the right outcomes for our customers. I mentioned earlier, the need to develop long-term relationships in order to succeed. I am constantly engaging my People Foundation Department on Cultural Transformation and people development. I also work closely with Technology and Enablement team to ensure our digital platforms are current, relevant, and meet customer needs; and with the Marketing and Communications team on how to safeguard the reputation of the brand. I also engage my Finance colleagues to ensure we have alignment on expenditures that drive the right experience. The Operations Team is my number one stakeholder as they are the engine of the business so success in CX requires constant engagement with Operations. Lastly, I have daily conversations with the business heads, as it is in their shops that the action takes place, ensuring service standards are being adhered to, and experiences are managed in the right manner, whilst service recovery remains a priority. Effective collaboration requires that you understand what the other person brings to the table and that you listen and appreciate their points of view in order to get them to buy in to your ideas. Ultimately you need to be good at painting the picture of success, so you get the right support.
CXP Gh – What steps should one follow to pursue a career similar to yours?
Evelyn – One must be curious and passionate about finding solutions to challenges and problems. You must pursue excellence relentlessly till it becomes your personal brand. Customers require excellent service delivery and to successfully become the customer’s advocate, you must be prepared to move out of your comfort zone to pursue excellence, hard work and diligence.
CXP Gh – Do you have any advice for aspiring CX professionals?
Evelyn – Learn, upskill, stay abreast, and pursue excellence relentlessly. Understand the value you bring to the table and seek to align CX strategy with the business strategy. CX is not as nice and as fluffy as it appears. There is real hard work behind every successful CX endeavor. As stated by Clare Muscutt, Founder of CMXperience “Building a good customer experience does not happen by accident. It happens by design.” Above all, have the heart for CX, after all we all live a life of service.
Head over to the next blog post to read the very interesting conversation we had with another CX trailblazer, Benjamin Akuffo!