by Chad Quinn

How IT can create an effortless customer experience

Nov 24, 2015
IT Strategy

Customers want an effortless experience every time they interact with a business. Now more than ever before, the CIO has the opportunity to create that effortless experience for the customer. Here are 4 ways the CIO can do so as we approach 2016.

In a recent short study, we asked our customers and buyers about their priorities when choosing a new business partner. Several said that before signing a contract, they want to know that the relationship will be successful, uncomplicated, and come with clear parameters.  They want to work with businesses who make the partnership easy – not require unnecessary obstacles and complicated processes. They want the experience to be effortless.

Now more than ever before, the CIO has the opportunity to create an effortless experience for the customer. The rise of digital integration and the importance of fluidity across the customer experience are allowing the CIO to influence and build the customer’s experience. Forrester Research analysts Kyle McNabb and Sharyn Leaver, discuss this opportunity in their article, “Customers Should Be at the Center of the CIO’s Agenda.” In their survey of 2,958 business leaders, 74 percent are prioritizing a focus on customer experience—but less than 50 percent “trust the CIO and the IT team to deploy the systems necessary” to do so.

So how can the CIO provide an effortless experience? Whether it’s for internal or external stakeholders, here are four ways the CIO can establish an effortless experience:

1. Adopt a service-obsessed mindset

Internal stakeholders will be the CIO’s customers, looking for efficiency and speed, but the CIO’s customers now also include external stakeholders. The CIO and IT organization are critical pieces to making the customer experience effortless. Instead of a business enablement focus, every IT department could “focus on the technologies, systems and processes that win, serve and retain customers,” as Kyle McNabb wrote in his article, “Take a step toward customer obsession.”

2. Use technology to promote business innovation

The CIO will be able to enable aggressive innovation by providing the overall architecture needed to support business strategy. The focus is no longer on specific technologies but instead on the overarching strategy for implementing various technologies to create a unified and efficient whole. Tactical requirements move further into the IT organization.

3. Improve agility and collaboration across the business

CIOs will be expected to reduce the amount of time it takes for iterations on products and services to occur – from months down to weeks or even days. Close communication with the business will only make this process easier. For example, integration across the business may require a strong connection with marketing. Adrienne Liebenberg, marketing director at BP Castrol, said recently that “by constantly working at the CMO/CIO relationship, the better chance a company has to become greater than the sum of its parts in customer experience terms.”  

4. Convey the value of IT

Lastly, assess the direct value that these changes have on customer experience. IT isn’t functioning in a back room – it is leading the way to a better customer experience. The connection to customer experience creates a significant impact on the value of the brand, and to ignore or deemphasize that value would be detrimental to business decision making. Identify this new area of value and quantify it for stakeholders. Get credit for the value that IT contributes to creating what customers want: an effortless experience.

By developing IT in these four areas, the CIO can provide a truly effortless experience for the customer. Not only that, but the CIO becomes a stronger broker of value by creating effortless customer experiences – an important trend in 2015, and one that will likely continue to increase in 2016.