Earning the Right to Customer Experience Transformation at a Telecommunications Company

EARNING THE RIGHT TO CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE TRANSFORMATION AT A TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY

Are you facing some challenges from your C-Suite regarding the implementation of a customer experience transformation? In today’s episode, I talk to Patricia Pedhom Nono, who was previously the general manager of customer service & customer experience at MTN Cameroon, one of the biggest telecommunications company in Africa. As the company’s first CCO, Patricia shares a detailed account of how she demonstrated the value of a customer-first strategy to a skeptical C-Suite.

Transition from Support to Value

With a background in IT engineering and dreams of being a Chief Information Officer (CIO), Patricia began her career in the United States, where she worked for the Big4 Consulting firms, helping them to position IT as a service and value driver rather than just a cost driver. Seven years later, she returned to Africa and joined MTN Group after running her own consulting firm for a little while. 

EARNING THE RIGHT TO CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE TRANSFORMATION AT A TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANYAt MTN, Patricia took a similar approach to her work; she wanted to position IT as a value and service for internal customers, moving from “support function” to a “value partner” to the business. Although MTN was the leader in terms of market share and revenue, they noticed they were behind in their NPS positioning and had to make a change. 

Patricia’s CCO role at MTN was created because the company was losing revenue, the CEO was customer-focused, and the C-Suite decided that it was time to for a CX leader to sit in the boardroom.

Actions taken in the first 6 months of Patricia’s role:

  • In general, the C-Suite was skeptical, so she had to earn their trust and her right to the work.
  • To prove her work, Patricia negotiated a 1 month free-zone: no expectations and no questions. She was left alone in order to learn and educate her peers.
  • She engaged with customers to understand why they were unhappy with MTN: through focus groups and a lot listening, in order to take feedback to C-Suite. 
  • After collecting customer feedback, she went to the frontline to understand their point of view of why customers didn’t like MTN: what could be done to improve systems, what stupid rules are killing their ability to serve and satisfy customers? How can the frontline be enabled to do a better job for customers?
  • Next, she spoke to MTN’s partners to understand what it would take for them to push the MTN products more than the competitors. For the resellers, what could be done to enable them more? 

Package Feedback and Unite the C-Suite

Patricia needed to understand the struggles of the C-Suite, and believed that by creating a gap analysis report and correlation to the C-Suite, she could showcase how the gaps in operations jeopardize the bottom line. She gathered all of her findings into a presentation that told the story of the customers with the data to back it up. MTN relies heavily on data and analytics, but she also wanted the information to be compelling through storytelling.

When reporting the findings to the C-Suite, it was critical that they determine how to clarify who would own the customer, and what customer accountability across the organization would look like. Like many other guests on the show, Patricia mentioned that sharing quick wins is another key in uniting the C-Suite. Showcasing results really helps create momentum.

Patricia and her team united around a system of four governing principles in order to create change for customers and employees.

  1. Does it make the life of our customer easier?
  2. Make it right the first time
  3. Know it before the customer tells you
  4. C.A.R.E at each interaction. CARE = Connect/Acknowledge/Resolve/Empower

What do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Patricia says:

  • I wish I knew that I should’ve continued to engage and unite the C-Suite in the long term. When we saw growth and revenue picking up, they sort of fell off and we lost some momentum. Engagement should be consistent.
  • Don’t think that because you unite the C-Suite, that things will immediately start to flow from the top down. There needs to be communication throughout the organization amongst everybody and you have to continue to sell the wins internally.
  • Make sure the C-Suite understands that this work takes time. Customer behavior habits don’t change quickly.

About Patricia Pedhom Nono

Patricia is a results-driven C-Suite business executive with a demonstrated record of exceeding profitability goals, turning around under-performing units and driving increased market share and customer loyalty.

With over 15 years’ experience in developing customer-driven growth for companies in Africa and the US, she specializes in leading transformation programs with a core focus on customer experience, commercial performance, business optimization, digital transformation and IT management.  

P.S – At the end of the podcast I remind you about the goodies you can receive when you pre-order a copy of my forthcoming book, “Would You Do That to Your Mother? The “Make Mom Proud” Standard for How to Treat Your Customers.


The presenting sponsor of The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show is Customerville. Customerville transforms customer experience surveys into rich, interactive experiences using its unique Design-driven Feedback™ platform.

This partnership ensures that I can continue these shows that you’ve shared such positive feedback on.  Thanks so much to Customervillle! Enjoy the show!

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