One word best explains Chioma Afe, Divisional Head, Corporate Communications at Diamond Bank – vivacious. In this brief, heart-to-heart chat with MarketingWorld, Chioma shares on innovation, customer centricity and digital banking where Diamond Bank Plc leads the pack. Excerpts…

You have covered several sectors but this will be the first time you will be offering your services in the banking industry. What are the new lessons? Do you think you need special knowledge to manage a bank brand?

My experiences in FMCG, Telco, Broadcast Media and Consulting have proven extremely useful in my current role as the diversity of experience and discipline over the years have more than prepared me for the challenges ahead. The banking industry is a dynamic one but I would not say special knowledge is required to manage a bank brand. However, the need for strong branding is greater than ever before in this industry as well as communicating outstanding and consistent customer service, creative products/services and authoritative endorsements all add up to the brand arsenal. Banks are daily rolling out new campaigns, new concepts, promotions, all in the battle of the mind. Hence the need to stay afloat by introducing innovative ideas and more importantly the experiences they are associated are hinged on the right communication to elicit positive customer reactions.

What has appealed to you personally about the brand Diamond Bank before you joined and since you joined?

I’m particularly taken by the importance Diamond bank places on customer service and product innovation. The customer is at the core of everything we do at Diamond, and the exploration and understanding of the customer’s needs is what drives product development and enhancement. As a communications expert, I live and breathe the CUSTOMER, and therefore I’ve always being keen on working with an organisation that is customer-centric. A business is nothing without its customers; it’s vital to recognise this – and Diamond bank’s reputation for customer service and product innovation (s) is clearly enviable.

What are the plans of the bank to connect better with its customers in 2017 (this year)?

Simply put, to continue to go “Beyond Banking”. It’s not just our mantra at Diamond; it’s our way of doing business; supporting our customers beyond the typical banking services and extending to lifestyle via digital and mobile platforms. Our core differentiator is our emphasis on digital banking and in 2017 we intend to push this even further; we have the BEST mobile app in the market with over 1.5million users, thereby encouraging more virtual (on-the-go) transactions and enabling our customers up to transact business faster, easier and 24/7. We will continue to appeal to the younger & more mobile generation via our financial inclusion products like Diamond Yello and our focus on reaching the unbanked in society through the Diamond Beta product will be sustained.

Having been around for a while, what are those things that drive your instincts as a professional?

Service, information, Passion

Do we expect Diamond Bank to be disruptive in the New Year?

Definitely! I anticipate disruptive ideas and execution in product, services and communication in 2017 for Diamond Bank.

Digital has emerged as a dominant force, what are the efforts of the brand to keep pace with competition in its offerings deliverables (products, marketing et al)?

At Diamond bank, we do not keep pace with competition…we lead in the digital space. We have the best financial mobile app (Diamond Mobile app), which now also boasts of the e-Susu product (enabling communal savings), Touch ID password for Apple device users on their mobile app, pioneer deployment of the “token-less” access to the mobile app which is so convenient for our customers.

What advice do you have for upcoming people in the profession?

Work Hard, never be afraid of taking up challenges, be adaptable and DON’T GIVE UP.

How do you juggle work and home?

 It’s tough, my older children are hands on and I have an extremely supportive husband and a great domestic support system.

How do you spend your free time?

I read, watch TV (my DStv days aren’t that far behind me), Crosswords

Describe yourself in 3 words?