Leadership and life lessons from the winner of the 2021 CX Leader of the Year – Interview with Sri Safitri of Telkom Indonesia.

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Today’s interview is with the winner of the MyCustomer 2021 CX Leader of the Year competition: Sri Safitri, Deputy Executive VP of Customer Experience and Digitisation at Telkom Indonesia. This interview is slightly different this week as I am conducting it with Clare Muscutt, Founder and CEO of Women in CX. The original interview can be found here but I thought it would be worth re-publishing here too. In the interview we discuss Fitri’s journey to where she is now, why she applied for the CX Leader of the Year competition, how she felt when she won and the biggest lessons that she has learned along the way.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Leadership, employee experience and the Zoom ceiling – Interview with Dr Elora Voyles of TINYpulse – and is number 417 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here’s the highlights of my chat with Sri (known as Fitri):

  • Telekom Indonesia is one of the largest telcos in the region. We have over 250 million subscribers and over 42 subsidiaries operating in 10 countries.
  • In 2017, the company decided to put customer experience (CX) as one of three of its strategic initiatives. Customer experience is number one in those three initiatives.
  • Gartner stated that 70% of CX professionals are women but only 35% make it into supervisory roles and management, and only 12% get to the top.
  • In order to have a good customer experience we need to be able to have empathy with the customers, especially during this pandemic.
  • We cannot deliver great services without trying to have empathy with the problem or the pain of the customers.
  • The good thing about customer experience transformation is we are transforming the business and that’s why the company decided to have people with business backgrounds instead of technology backgrounds leading the transformation.
  • My style: fire and forget. I immediately tell my team that they need to fix something immediately but then I don’t keep it to the heart. I want to have open communication with my team. I don’t want them to hide anything from me and report it later on. So I want them to report anything immediately if there is a problem.
  • I am very inspired by my first boss. He is very smart, but at the same time he is very open and humble. The other thing that I learned from him is that he’s always passionate about what he does, and also he’s very, very into hard work.
  • Always be learning.
  • A leader must be predictable and consistent.
  • The future will require much, much more personalisation. And, in order to be able to do that then then the CX professional must also learn about data.
  • Even though technology is getting more and more advanced, customers still prefer to deal with people.
  • Fitri’s best advice:
    • 1. We need to have a discipline in in the way we measure the impact of CX and also how we measure CX.
    • 2. The hardest thing for a CX professional is to bring awareness of CX to the whole team and organisation and how do we motivate them to strive towards better customer outcomes.

About Fitri

Sri SafitriSri Safitri is Deputy Executive VP of Customer Experience and Digitisation at Telkom Indonesia and has recently been voted the 2021 CX Leader of the Year!

Assigned with the task of driving customer experience transformation in 2016, Sri has dedicated herself to meeting Telkom’s vision of becoming one of the most customer-centric companies in the world.

In the intervening years she defined a clear CX mission for the organisation, which was built on foundations of rigorous research – PESTEL analysis, Voice of the Customer research, bottom up and transactional NPS analysis and operational performance analysis – and established dedicated units that are accountable to drive CX transformation.

All of this has enabled Sri to launch a series of actions across two tiers – fixing the basics (identifying ‘hygiene factors’ and eliminate defects), and creating WOW moments for customers through differentiated experiences.

Core to the transformation taking place at Telkom is the drive to foster a CX culture and mindset, improving communication and collaboration and positively influencing employee behaviour. Initiatives to drive engagement and understanding and transform culture include: in-class and elearning operationalisation training for approximately 8,000 frontline staff; CX Talks sharing sessions for frontline and middle managers to discuss best practices and ways to assist frontliners; and CX Forum sharing sessions for senior leaders to discuss ideas and conduct design thinking workshops to evaluate and improve service operations.

Furthermore, the collaboration and communication has extended outside of the organisation, with the launch of a CX website to encourage interaction between CX experts and enthusiasts across industries and organisations, and an annual CX Summit event that invites up to 5,000 employees and customers to share insights.

Safitri and her team have also developed a dashboard that integrates the results of all customer surveys from across the organisation and its 40+ subsidiaries – something that not only represents a huge improvement in alignment and collaboration to improve the customer experience, but has also led to substantial cost savings in research costs as the organisation looks to raise its NPS.

All of this activity has put Telkom Indonesia in good stead during the turbulence of the past two years, with the organisation believing that the CX initiatives have had a clear positive impact on sales and customer churn, while driving up NPS.

Say Hi to Fitri and the folks at Telkom Indonesia on Twitter @srisafitri and @TelkomIndonesia and connect with Fitri on LinkedIn here.

Thanks to febriamar on Pixabay for the image.

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