Customer obsession: The right kind of mania for CIOs

The term “obsession” doesn’t leave much middle ground -- either it leads to something very good, or very bad. Every department is driven by some sort of obsession. Sadly, an unintended consequence of the ERP systems that companies have built over the past 25 years is that many managers have become obsessed with business processes and lost sight of the customer, whom they have come to view as a transaction. A customer, however, is a person, not a transaction. Customer obsession is about breaking down the transaction mentality and creating positive experiences. Customers have no regard for your business silos, and they’re getting increasingly skilled at maneuvering around them to get what they need. Every “moment” they interact with someone in your organization -- whether or not it’s someone that you intend for them to interact with -- counts toward, or against, your bottom line. At its essence, IT’s purpose is to ensure that every moment with a customer or potential customer increases engagement. Engaged customers buy your products. Disengaged ones look for someone better to buy from. A recent Gallup poll asked customers of 500 global companies to rate their engagement with those companies -- the global average was 20 percent. To quote Dana Carvey quoting George H.W. Bush: “That’s bad, that’s real bad.” Here’s how to make it better, and bring your engagement up to the 60-70 percent levels that companies like Apple, Amazon and Ritz Carlton enjoy:

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