home Customer Experience, Executive Profiles Being authentic and inclusive. Interview with Chief Customer Officer Rania Wannous

Being authentic and inclusive. Interview with Chief Customer Officer Rania Wannous

Rania Wannous, the Chief Customer Officer at the New South Wales Telco Authority, leads the customer experience, partnerships, communications and stakeholder engagement functions at the authority. As customer advocate, Rania ensures the Telco Authority’s services meet evolving customer and citizen connectivity needs. Mark Atterby interviews Rania about the importance of being authentic and inclusive in her role.

Mark Atterby (MA): Can you please provide a background to your career and your role at New South Wales Telco Authority?

Rania Wannous (RW): I’m the Chief Customer Officer at NSW Telco Authority. In this role, I lead all aspects of our customer-facing relationships including customer experience, partnerships, communications and stakeholder engagement. I advocate for our customers across the organisation to elevate and strengthen our relationships and drive initiatives that establish Telco Authority as both an industry leader and centre of excellence in meeting the evolving needs and requirements of our customers.

I began my career working with NSW Government ministers in research and media advisor roles.  Over the past 20 years, in positions of increasing responsibility, I have developed my career in communications working with high-profile organisations in Sydney and the UK including Visit London, the England and Wales Cricket Board, the Australian National Rugby League and global consultancy firm, ERM. 

(MA): From your various roles what is the most important thing that you have learnt about customer experience and innovation?

(RW): Authenticity and inclusiveness are at the heart of the customer experience. Listen first. Be generous with your time and focus on building relationships that last beyond your current role and reach across the organisation to create an ongoing dialogue that builds loyalty.

Innovation must be considered strategically and in context. One group’s innovative measure can mean significant change to another that may or may not be welcome. It’s important to be transparent, purpose-driven and take all stakeholders on the journey.

(MA): Can you provide an anecdote or a short story of how you learnt this lesson?

(RW): Ahead of starting my current role, I had great ideas about I would do, and in particular, what I would change. Very quickly I learnt that what I really needed to do was listen and ask questions.

(MA): How have you applied this lesson in your career?

(RW): I’m a strong believer in a growth mindset and no matter how much experience I gather, there are lessons in every role. I still feel like I’m learning each day – from our customers, from my team and peers. 

I’m willing to take calculated risks, acknowledge when I get it wrong and most importantly, learn the lesson so I (hopefully) don’t repeat it.  Before making big decisions, I’ll take a moment to pause and ask myself, “when I look back will I be able to say I did my best?”

(MA): What do you think is required to be a successful Chief Customer Officer? What have been the greatest successes or highlights in your career?

(RW): To be a successful Chief Customer Officer you need to see yourself as the customer advocate that is able to deliver balanced decision-making that equally considers the needs of the organisation. My team and I represent the interests of customers and ensure their voice is heard throughout every strategy, plan, program or initiative. 

I’ve been fortunate to work at many great organisations learning from leaders that encouraged me. I think my greatest success has been that I’ve been able to quickly get across the detail of whatever brief I’m given and become a trusted advisor.  Trust is at the heart of a relationship and it’s why I’m so passionate about being a Chief Customer Officer.

…One core memory though, is joining the England and Wales Cricket Board and walking to their head office at Lord’s Cricket Ground. I’m a cricket tragic and there’s a magic to Lord’s that’s impossible to describe.

Rania is a featured speaker at the next CX ACPAC event: Enhancing customer satisfaction through personalisation, digitisation and channel integration to be held 21 – 23 March.

Mark Atterby

Mark Atterby has 18 years media, publishing and content marketing experience.