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CXBuzz Interview with Catherine Kiriba, Head of Customer Experience at Faulu Microfinance Bank

Hi Catherine, tell us about yourself and your background.

My education background is in: Master of Arts (MA) in International Relations, Bachelor of Arts B.A (Anthropology), University of Nairobi. I have a Certificate in Leadership and Management Development from WITS Business School, Johannesburg SA.

I’m a certified Quality Management System Lead Auditor by Bureau Veritas Kenya (CQI IRCA: PR328 ISO 9001:2015).

Subject Matter Expert, in Customer Experience and Quality Assurance with over 16 years’ experience cutting across the Banking and Telecommunications industries. Experienced in leading CX teams, setting CX frameworks, designing CX policies and procedures, Customer Journey Mapping, setting up start-ups and CX departments.

I’m a volunteer in community work, where I’m involved in mobilizing resources and connecting business opportunities to support widowed families in Narok South, where the inhabitants are the indigenous Maasai Community.

I’m also a board member of Andgate Foundation where we sponsor students in need transitioning to high school, thus making education accessible to those in need.

I’m a sports enthusiast, mother, and an avid reader.

How did you start working in the customer experience space?

It was not a deliberate move; I grew into this field through my volunteer and corporate work. During my break from Campus, I was involved in community work at in Nairobi Kenya at Korogocho & Kayole slums, where I taught high school students and offered support at the health center, where I identified patients with medical cases that needed financial support.

When I moved to the corporate environment, I was in the business development unit and frequently received positive ratings from customers on how I served them. I always serve from the heart. When I joined Airtel Kenya Networks as a Customer Experience Officer, my career path was well aligned, and I rose through the ranks. I’m fortunate to have a career that is in line with my passion, blends well with my education, background, and my future aspirations.

Can you tell us a little bit about your current role?

As the Head of Customer Experience at Faulu Microfinance Bank, my role encompasses

  • Delivery of customer experience across channels and network of 41 branches;
  • Omnichannel Customer Experience | Process Re-Engineering;
  • Customer Insights | NPS | Voice of Customer | Customer Satisfaction;
  • Customer Service Charter | Customer Service Standards;
  • Customer Centricity across all Customer Touchpoint in Retail, SME and Community sectors;
  • End-to-End Customer Journey and User Experience design across Retail, SME and Community;
  • 24/7 Contact Centre business operations | Vendor Management | BCP;
  • CX Digital Transformation | Customer First Culture | Cross Functional Teams;
  • Optimization of Customer Relationship Management System (CRM);
  • Customer Advocate | Customer Lifecycle Management | Customer Retention for Business growth;
  • Branch Service Experience.

How can companies better listen and understand their customer base?

Understanding the needs of the customer is critical for running a profitable company and driving customer centricity. Organizations that listen to and understand their customers’ needs improve their bottom line as they offer solutions to customers. Organizations don’t have to wait for the customer to ask for a product/service, they should proactively offer solutions to the customer as they partner to improve their livelihoods.

Companies can listen to their customers, by offering various feedback channels which are easily accessible to the customer and acting on the feedback collected. To build brand affinity, companies should close the feedback loop by getting back to the customer and updating on action taken or future plans on areas raised. By listening to the Voice of Customers, companies can build compelling strategies around: Customer Lifecycle Management, Customer Retention & Voice of Customers Programs.

What are some companies that you think are doing an excellent job at customer experience, and why?

There are various companies that are doing a great job in having the voice of customers heard in the organization, so it is hard to pinpoint a specific company.

In Kenya for instance, various sectors have developed regulations that govern how customers are served. This means customers have an avenue to be heard, and in case it’s not happening to their satisfaction, they can seek redress from various bodies. This is a trend in the right direction, as it provides for consumer protection and thus building a positive market conduct.

Though a lot still needs to be done to ensure strategy is driven from a deeper understanding of the customer.

Many companies are currently undergoing digital transformation processes – what are your tips on a successful digital transformation?

Customer Experience is a key strategic pillar, which uses data to demonstrate correlation between customer satisfaction and revenue growth. Organizations should proactively monitor defined metrics and address gaps observed to continuously improve on Customer Experience Excellence.

Identifying key metrics in Customer Lifecycle Management and developing customer milestone measures will give the much-needed data on Return on Investments, thus promoting Service Based Selling! With a high Net Promoter Score (NPS), a company achieves long-term profitable growth. Driving and measuring Employee Experience is also key in customer satisfaction.

Successful digital transformation calls for understanding the human behavior and using data to make informed choices; for successful digital transformation companies should:

  1. Develop Customer Journey Maps
  2. Have simple & clear Know Your Customer processes
  3. Comprehensive competitor analysis
  4. Clearly defined value proposition
  5. Include specialists with foundation knowledge on human behavior, for instance anthropologists, especially during User Interface designs, product development, etc.

With the above clearly mapped out, companies can then choose a good technical partner – to leverage on technology and offer a unique seamless experience. 

What are some CX solutions or tools that you’re keeping your eyes on right now?

Some of the CX tools and solutions I’m looking at are around Customer Relationship Management, Contact Center solutions and customer feedback collection tools. Building a 360 view of the customer.

Did you read any interesting books this past summer that you’d like to recommend?

Yes, I read some interesting books on leadership:
The Making of a Symphony Orchestra: Timeless Leadership by Otieno Paul-Peter; and Fearless Leadership by Margaret Kimani.

What is your favorite CX metric?

I have a few, but my favorite one is the Net Promoter Score. Using the NPS data, we have been able to develop customer retention strategies and reward customer-centric employees. Customer ratings on these metrics has a direct relationship with the performance of a company, and data collected provides a lot of insight on areas a company is doing well as well as opportunities for improvement.

About the author

Anna Burneika
Anna Burneika
Anna is a staff writer at CXBuzz. Her international background lends itself to 5 languages, a wide variety of interests, and a broad and bright approach to her work. Having accomplished her first degree - a BA in Communications and Political Science - at only 19 years old, she is currently pursuing her passion of Theatre with an MA in the UK.


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