Rebekah Kabugo-Mugisha has driven CX in the aviation, renewable energy and telecom industries and currently serves as the customer experience manager for Uganda’s National Social Security Fund (NSSF).
She uses her skills to play a critical role in effecting change in her organization and leading the growth of the CX discipline in Uganda, where only 16% of the population uses smartphones—for now.
Rebekah says the pace of change in Uganda is accelerating—as it is everywhere--and she is determined to be ahead of the curve.
“I have been exploring different ways of delivering value to clients through digital methods because digital service delivery is the future—and the future is here,” she explains. “Before, everyone was focusing on face-to-face customer experience. We’ve seen not only global brands like Amazon and Google shape service delivery, but also local brands like safe boda and Jumia. Now we know that all customers--regardless of segment--want products and services to find them where they are. CX places customer journeys on a pedestal.”
Through that exploration, Rebekah has learned two things. First, how to track behavior with different digital tools - such as using analytics to understand what she calls the customer’s "flight.” Second, and more importantly, she’s pivoted from service to experience. “In my past experience in service, it was all about getting the customer transaction done,” she says, “But now, I'm looking at the entire experience from onboarding, inflight, to the exit stage and how to add real value and relevance to that cycle with any brand.’’
The NSSF in Uganda is responsible for the collection, investment, and distribution of retirement funds from employees of the private sector who are not covered under a government program. Lump-sum payments are made to beneficiaries, and through customer surveys, the NSSF discovered a major customer pain point.
“We are Social Security. Our clients are just keeping a bit of money aside, and when they are 55 years of age, they take their money as a bulk payment,” Rebekah explains. “We looked at the data and saw that we were giving them their bylaws on time, we were registering them on time, and giving them easy access to funds. But, guess what? When we looked at their subsequent behavior, we saw that they were losing their money very quickly. Our clients worked for 30 years to save that money, but they ended up losing it because they didn’t have financial literacy skills. It’s very sad.”
Rebekah knew that more needed to be done.
‘’As CXers, we need to look beyond what customers are asking for to what they truly need. In this instance, advancing the financial literacy agenda for a Social Security Fund is one of the initiatives that helped us look beyond what customers were asking for every day. The numbers were clear about our clients’ need to understand key personal financial management habits and this has since become a phenomenal addition to the inflight part of their lifecycle with the organization.’’
Rebekah says it is critical for CX professionals to understand what she calls the “mandate” of their organization. In her job with NSSF, the core mandate is the provision of Social Security services to its membership. When she worked for a telecom company, the mandate was to provide customers with connectivity via various communication channels; with aviation, it was ensuring safe, seamless, and enjoyable on-ground experiences for the traveling public. Her advice – consider your organization’s mandate in designing the customers’ journey.
“I’m very sold on the fact that I think people that have started out in contact centers, as I did, have the best experience as CX leaders,” she said, “It's a cocktail of so many things at the same time: how do you balance effectiveness and efficiency? Even just starting at the basics of handling customer queries, you understand the customer journey more intimately.”
Her CX Journey
From the time she was a young girl, Rebekah has strived to help others succeed. “I have always wanted to help people. I was sure about that from a very early age,” she said.
She has her bachelor’s degree from Makerere University, an MBA from Amity University Delhi, and a certificate in Artificial Intelligence from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Her work as Head of Customer Services/Commercial at Uganda Telecom Ltd., as Deputy Managing Director at M-KOPA Solar, as the Customer Experience Manager at NSSF, and other roles along the way have all afforded her different opportunities to fulfill her childhood dream and allowed her to grow as a leader by mentoring her peers. “I think I was meant to be of service to others and to be a leader with young people,” she said, “And I’m very patriotic. I love Africa. I love Uganda.”
Her aspirations have also propelled Rebekah to make a difference in CX with her career, while also continually changing with the times. “Customer awareness is growing along with expectations. You have to do a lot more to delight customers because of their awareness of what an exceptional experience looks like.”
To overcome that obstacle, Rebekah believes that CX professionals need to continually learn from each other, as they do when they belong to a professional association like CXPA. “Personally, I like to see what others are doing even though it’s from a different trade because experience cuts across all industries,” she said, “Unlearn and learn, learn some more, learn as much as you can so that you stay ahead of the curve and keep up with trends.”