IT’s drive to improve the customer experience

CIOs are hiring BRMs and BPOs, embedding IT in the business and sending IT staff into the field — all in a quest to better court business customers.

IT’s drive to improve the customer experience

A year ago, furniture manufacturer La-Z-Boy underwent a major ERP implementation and technology retooling that pulled most of the IT team’s time and resources. The project was successful, but when it was over, it became clear that other IT priorities had suffered, like customer satisfaction.

“We kind of lost sight of how do we focus on and equip ourselves with the skills, tools and resources to be really great at customer service?” says David Behen, vice president and CIO.  What followed was a year-long IT re-invention to fundamentally change the way IT operated, with a major focus on the customer experience.

“We really needed to build credibility within our organization that we could not only deliver what we say, but that [IT] can be their best business partner,” Behen says. He developed a team-based structure for each of La-Z-Boy’s four business units that included an IT director who focuses solely on the business processes and operations of that business unit, and a business relationship manager, who serves as a liaison to the business unit and who understands their business model and how IT can help enhance and support it.

Next, Behen put together an IT strategic plan with eight goals that align to the company’s strategy, along with a target of getting all 130 IT employees out in the field to see how the team’s work impacts manufacturing plants and retail stores. Today, the IT team is an important part of La-Z-Boy’s customer experience process. With IT credibility now forged with the business units, “we can now start talking about innovation,” says Behen.

Most enterprises today rank improving the customer experience as one of their top priorities. Some 67 percent of IT executives surveyed for CIO’s Digital Business 2019 Report have made improving the customer experience their most important transformation initiative.

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