April Newsletter – an interview with Liezel Botha

We are delighted to present this edition of our CX Talent Ltd newsletter featuring an interview with Liezel Botha  – an internationally experienced Transformation leader focused on Customer experience, Product management and Programme delivery.  Liezel leads large scale turnaround projects in digitilisation of CX, developing successful propositions based on customer needs, and managing product portfolios.  Currently at the nationalgrid ESO, she has also worked across both the Telco and Financial service industries.

Liezel – you’re currently Head of Customer Transformation at nationalgrid ESO. Can you tell us what your role entails?

Hi there, and thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts around Customer Experience in your newsletter.

Here at the ESO we are on a journey to drive Customer Centricity across the organisation. When I joined 18 months ago I developed alongside the team 5 focus areas to support the journey. These include the centralisation of customer data sources to drive deeper insight and support decision making, focussing on the development of customer journeys, driving continuous experience improvements through a Partnership model with business functions, embedding the use of CRM as our central customer tool and launching a new Customer Service Operating model.  My role as Head of Customer Transformation is to lead across these initiatives to deliver a stronger Customer Centric culture and a better overall experience for our customers.

You’ve got fantastic experience across Telco, Financial Services and Utilities in CX. All of these are heavily regulated – how are CX initiatives impacted by these regulations? What challenges or opportunities does that present? 

In my experience the regulatory environment should not be viewed as a limiting space to operate in. Regulation serves a great purpose to provide protection for customers and sets the scene for “hygiene” standardisation requirements or minimum expectations that has to be met for our customers. It therefore also creates opportunities to excel in meeting customer expectations and to drive differentiation in the experience offered.

What would you say would be your biggest successes in terms of CX in your career to date?

I would probably call out two very successful outcomes. In Vodafone UK there is a real drive to use journey analytics to look for customer pain points in existing customer journeys in order to eradicate them through, where possible, automation and digitalisation initiatives. Identifying these pain points also stops them from being replicated in journeys when new propositions are launched. With a relentless focus on continuous improvement we uplifted the Consumer Pay as you go NPS score by 2 points. This is significant at this is one of the most competitive portfolios in Telco. The other example that I will add is from the short term insurance industry where in Vodacom as Head of Insurance Propositions and Operations we unlocked a 51% revenue increase by understanding customer payment behaviour and needs and delivering a customer experience that provided more choice and addressed security concerns.

Of all the roles you have had over the course of your career – which one has been your favourite and why?

Ooo can I pick two again… Some years ago I launched the first Innovation Team for Vodafone UK. Our key focus was to use customer behavioural data/insight and technology developments to identify potential unmet customer needs or challenges and find a tech solution that could solve these for our customers thereby creating new propositions and revenue streams. The work that we did in the team (and these are some years ago) was ground breaking for QR barcode scanning, digital maps on mobiles and starting to understand human behaviour and UX for the use of mobile devices. All of those learnings are in real propositions and products and in today’s world “second nature” but started off from understanding customer needs and behaviour. My second example will have to be the short term Insurance role that I outline before. Insurance has difficult customer journeys as it starts from a “grudge purchase” perspective and no one really wants to go through a claims journey so getting it right from a customer experience point of view really does create a buzz across the team, a value outcome for the customer and off course revenue for the organisation.

I know you are particularly interested in consumer psychology and design thinking.  How does this impact your approach to CX?

Yes the world of consumer behaviour and the way our customers think and react has always been something that I have watched with interest. Human behaviour, how it adapts over time as new experiences or technologies comes along as well as the impact we can have on creating value outcomes for customers is just a world of endless opportunity. With data models and the world of AI this area will develop even faster than ever before. My go to place is always “what does the data say” and “how are customers behaving”. This shapes where our time and monetary investment goes to really make a difference in the experience we offer to our customers irrespective of channel used.

You have quickly built up a large team at nationalgrid  ESO. What skillsets do you think that people really need to hone if they want to pursue a career in CX going forward?

Yes we did ramp up the team rather quickly at the ESO to bolster a very strong foundation and to bring in additional skills. Working in customer experience is not just about the skill of co-creating strong customer journeys but really includes the ability to understand customer insight from data, have a strong commercial understanding to be able to articulate the ROI for investment in experience improvement and a strong omni channel marketing understanding. A CX role is one of the broadest skillset roles to work in and that is probably why I enjoy it so much.

What is your view about the use of AI to help CX initiatives?

I am a strong advocate of AI and believe that it is going to step change the CX industry over the coming years. I do believe that structure and boundaries will be needed to prevent unwanted or fraudulent interactions but with the right guardrails in place it can truly unlock a great experience for customers and will support organisations to redeploy staff to focus on complex futuristic customer challenges.

As a recognised thought leader in CX – how do you see the discipline evolving in the future?

That is really linked to the question around AI. Our industry is rapidly evolving and this will accelerate as more competition, more market pressures and great advancements in technology drives us to ensure that we deliver the best customer journey to obtain and retain customers for our organisations.  It is a very exciting discipline to be a part of with endless transformation opportunities all around.

Do you have any advice for those candidates who are looking to develop their career in CX?

Don’t be scared to move across different functional areas within an organisation as this gives you a breadth of understanding of the impact Customer Experience has on the organisations and vice versa as well as a solid understanding of the commercial implications. During my career I have covered product development,  portfolio management, programme delivery, customer experience with different design methodologies, proposition development and technology transformation programmes. CX impacts all of these and having the understanding of those functions equips you with insight on how to take teams and key stakeholders on a journey to understand the criticality of investing in CX initiatives.


We’d like to thank Liezel for her time and professional insight in answering our questions.

Stay tuned for our next months’ amazing CX guest for further insight into CX initiatives and advice on career progression.

At CX Talent Ltd – Jo van Riemsdijk and Kate Baird are proud to be connected with the brightest and best talent in Customer Experience, Customer Operations, Digital Experience and Service Design at all levels.

If you would like to discuss your recruitment requirements in this area and how we can add value in finding the right fit for your team. Please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!