Im­plant­ing CIOs into cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY - By Jy­oti Lalchan­dani

Af­ter many years of com­pet­ing on price, se­lec­tion, qual­ity, and ser­vice, busi­nesses find them­selves on the new­est bat­tle­ground - cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence (CX). Be­yond great prod­ucts and ser­vices, cus­tomers in­creas­ingly ex­pect or­ga­ni­za­tions to pro­vide en­gag­ing, high-qual­ity ex­pe­ri­ences tai­lored to their in­di­vid­ual wants and needs and avail­able across a wide va­ri­ety of touch points and de­vices.

For CIOs and their IT de­part­ments, CX sim­i­larly rep­re­sents an im­por­tant bat­tle­ground; for many, their very fu­ture is at stake. That’s be­cause tech­nol­ogy is an es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ent of CX - meet­ing cus­tomer expectations re­quires a grow­ing com­plex of tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions, and busi­nesses can’t de­liver great CX with­out IT sup­port.

It might sound overly dra­matic, but there is a huge amount at stake here. In­deed, those CIOs that can rise to the “CX oc­ca­sion” will find them­selves feted as es­sen­tial strate­gic al­lies to their busi­ness part­ners. On the other hand, those that fails in help­ing to shape and drive su­pe­rior CX run the risk of jeop­ar­diz­ing not only their com­pa­nies’ suc­cess but their ca­reers as well.

The road to CX suc­cess for IT teams is a chal­leng­ing one, rid­dled with tech­no­log­i­cal com­plex­ity, siloed or­ga­ni­za­tions and pol­i­tics, dis­rup­tive com­pe­ti­tion, and rapidly evolv­ing mar­ket expectations and com­pe­ti­tion. Un­der such cir­cum­stances it can be tempt­ing for CIOs to stick to the bread and but­ter of build­ing, ac­quir­ing, and man­ag­ing con­ven­tional IT sys­tems and in­fra­struc­ture. But the re­al­ity is that they must play an in­te­gral role in CX, and do­ing that well can help se­cure a more prom­i­nent role within their or­ga­ni­za­tions. While ‘cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence’ may be the hot topic of the day in board­rooms around the world, it’s cer­tainly not a new con­cept. In­deed, it can be traced back to the very ori­gins of commerce when mer­chants had to fix prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with a sale or risk los­ing a cus­tomer’s busi­ness. But it has cer­tainly come to the fore once again as mar­kets have be­come in­creas­ingly crowded with com­pet­ing play­ers and prod­uct of­fer­ings, making dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion dif­fi­cult for many busi­nesses. CX has had to evolve over the years to meet chang­ing needs. From the ear­lier fo­cus on ser­vice and prob­lem res­o­lu­tion, CX evolved to en­com­pass cus­tomer en­gage­ment, mar­ket­ing, and sales. Fast for­ward, and or­ga­ni­za­tions are now re­al­iz­ing that cus­tomers want and ex­pect qual­ity CX to ex­tend across the en­tire cus­tomer jour­ney, from aware­ness to pur­chase, ser­vice and sup­port, and even be­yond into co-in­no­va­tion of prod­ucts

and brand ad­vo­cacy.

Dig­i­tal ser­vices

Savvy or­ga­ni­za­tions have long since fig­ured out that their brand and im­age don’t orig­i­nate in the mar­ket­ing depart­ment; they come from the last in­ter­ac­tion that a cus­tomer has had with any part of the busi­ness. Vi­sions of glis­ten­ing planes soaring through the heav­ens with grandiose mu­sic evap­o­rate ex­tremely quickly in the face of flight de­lays, cryptic tick­et­ing ap­pli­ca­tions, and stony-faced flight at­ten­dants. That means that ev­ery in­ter­ac­tion, whether phys­i­cal or dig­i­tal, ei­ther con­trib­utes to or de­tracts from the qual­ity of the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.

Ul­ti­mately, CX is all about bring­ing to­gether tech­nol­ogy, pro­cesses, in­for­ma­tion, and em­pow­ered employees to make and keep cus­tomers sat­is­fied. And it is here where the CIO and his/her team must strive to make a dif­fer­ence. At IDC we pre­dict that by 2020, 60% of CIOs in global or­ga­ni­za­tions will have been sup­planted by chief dig­i­tal of­fi­cers for the de­liv­ery of IT-en­abled prod­ucts and dig­i­tal ser­vices. So the threat to the CIO’s in­flu­ence - and even very ex­is­tence within the CX cir­cle is an ex­tremely real one.

In or­der to play a mean­ing­ful role and head off the threat of a CDO tak­ing away key re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, the IT depart­ment must de­velop some crit­i­cal new skills that un­til now may have not even been on their radar. Cen­tral to this is the need to de­velop deep lev­els of cus­tomer knowl­edge and em­pa­thy, while CIOs must also be­come adept at si­mul­ta­ne­ously lead­ing, fol­low­ing, in­flu­enc­ing, and per­suad­ing line-of-busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives who may or may not wel­come IT’s in­volve­ment in CX ini­tia­tives.

CX jour­ney

This last point is cru­cial to avoid­ing con­flict, be­cause there will un­doubt­edly be cer­tain lines of busi­ness that be­lieve they ‘own’ the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence. Con­trary to such be­liefs, IDC is firmly of the opin­ion that CX is an en­ter­prise-wide, mis­sion-crit­i­cal ini­tia­tive and that CIOs and their teams are es­sen­tial el­e­ments as they bring some crit­i­cally needed com­pe­ten­cies. For ex­am­ple, chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cers will only be suc­cess­ful if a pro­duc­tive re­la­tion­ship with the IT or­ga­ni­za­tion is cre­ated and de­vel­oped, and that holds true in ser­vice, sup­port, and other facets of cus­tomer re­la­tion­ships as well, as all are un­der­pinned by tech­nol­ogy along with peo­ple, pro­cesses, and in­for­ma­tion.

Fail­ure to play an ac­tive and trans­for­ma­tional role in the CX jour­ney will most likely re­sult in the IT depart­ment be­ing branded as a care­taker and in­fra­struc­ture man­age­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion, with cus­tomer-fac­ing tech­nol­ogy ini­tia­tives handed off to a CDO (or equiv­a­lent). It is for this rea­son that CIOs and their teams must step up to the plate. IT has much to bring to the CX ta­ble, in­clud­ing a deepseated knowl­edge of en­ter­prise sys­tems and pro­cesses and in­valu­able skills in pri­vacy and se­cu­rity pro­tec­tion, en­ter­prise ar­chi­tec­tures, and ap­pli­ca­tion in­te­gra­tion, to name a few. It is now up to them to prove their worth.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.