Antonia Oakes, Old Mutual Insure

Antonia Oakes

Antonia Oakes

Executive Head of Customer Experience & Responsible Business

Old Mutual Insure

South Africa

Antonia Oakes is one of six finalists to be commended by our expert judging panel.

Together with her team of five CX specialists, Antonia’s mandate at Old Mutual Insure is, on paper, relatively clear-cut: increase customer satisfaction and brand sentiment whilst creating a return on the investment in CX.

Yet with Old Mutual being a 180 year-old institution steeped in tradition and boasting what might arguably be called a ‘conservative’ company culture, moving the dials on any kind of transformation programme is not as straight-forward as it sounds.

For Antonia, the key to success has been to engage her c-suite leadership team in the importance of CX strategy from the outset.  

One initiative they actioned required the CEO to bring an empty foldable red chair to board meetings that was then placed in the centre of the room and acted as representation for the customer. The chair provided a conversation starter in the early days of the CX strategy being outlined, as well as a reminder of where the new focus of the business needed to be.

Antonia’s team also introduced customer and employee journey mapping and involved all key stakeholders at all levels in the process, as well as the company’s customers and brokers.

They implemented a programme called ‘magical moments’ which provided a platform for staff to nominate customers and brokers for a special personalised care pack, whilst CX masterclasses were also introduced, and attended by top leadership all the way through to call centre agents.

The results have been seen in terms of a cultural shift among senior leaders at Old Mutual, but the company has also achieved a no.1 position for TCF ( treating customers fairly) in the short-term industry in the intermediated market (South African customer satisfaction index survey), internal NPS and NES scores and a reduction in complaint resolution times.

Antonia was also the spearhead for a COVID-19 customer relief strategy set-up in 2020, to help Old Mutual’s customers cope with payments caused by the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.

CX is not for the faint-hearted and you have to be strong and bold and be able to communicate a complex concept to executives and board members who sometimes only want to hear about profitable growth and not emotive human connectedness.

CX Leader of the Year

Judges' praise for Antonia:

"Antonia has done a great job defining an experience vision, and bringing that vision to life across the organisation in meaningful, engaging and compelling ways. In particular, her engagement with and education of senior executives was compelling and powerful." - Michael Hinshaw

"What also stood out for me in Antonia’s submission was how much she and her team worked to socialise and incorporate other functions and departments into the CX initiative – including the use of Journey Mapping. Results of her work are clear – she lays out compelling business results realized by the CX work.  She talks about how they studied digital platforms that served Brokers – an important Stakeholder for their work – and also worked with IT and even Product Teams.  That shows significant culture change." - Daniel Ord

"Tackling change in a systemic manner in a conservative organisation is difficult. I am impressed with the results Antonia has achieved in an industry that is so often a grudge purchase." - Chantel Botha

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