3 Steps to Building a Customer-Centric Organization

Create customer centricity by delivering seamless experiences, leveraging IT’s unique insights, and evolving your leadership mindset.

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Your IT department probably doesn't interact directly with your company’s customers very often. That’s because IT teams have a different set of ‘customers’ to serve: your other business units. Without the technology solutions developed by IT, those other business units might struggle to deliver the connected experiences your company’s customer base expects.

Today, if your company isn’t customer-centric, it risks becoming irrelevant. In a modern customer-centric organization, it’s essential to understand that IT can enable great customer experiences. Every IT leader needs to understand that the digital interfaces and experiences designed by IT for customer-facing business units have a significant impact on customer experience.

How do you create a more customer-centric IT department? There are three ways to do this: focus on delivering seamless experiences, leverage IT’s unique insights, and evolve your leadership mindset. By following these three steps, CIOs can build customer-centricity into their IT departments and transform their organizations for the future.

  1. Deliver Seamless Experiences

Enabling customer-centricity in IT starts with pushing information to customer-facing departments as quickly and seamlessly as possible. This reduces friction on customer-facing employees so they can avoid struggling with technology and instead focus on delivering the best customer experiences possible.

With organized, streamlined, and easy-to-use internal software, customer care agents can finally focus on solving customers’ problems. Without having to click through a dozen buggy company intranet pages, agents’ full attention can stay where it belongs — on the customer.

We’re living and working in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and clunky legacy enterprise tech just doesn’t cut it anymore. Your IT teams must see themselves as a group of people who build consumer-grade digital experiences for internal corporate employees. When IT creates fast and responsive solutions that remove burdens for other departments, they’re indirectly removing burdens for your company’s customers.

  1. Leverage IT’s Unique Perspective

Today, technology supports most customer interactions. Think of a modern retail store — associates carry iPads and the POS system is Internet-enabled. Corporate IT teams play a pivotal role in delivering high-quality customer experiences because they’re the ones who make these digital connections possible in the first place.

It’s imperative for today’s IT teams to use human-centric design in developing all tech systems, from accounting and supply chain to retail apps that customers use. IT needs to stay one step ahead of where the business is; that way the tech stack is ready for new, innovative ideas — allowing the business to move at the speed of the customer and remain competitive. With the right outlook and technological foundations, IT can say “yes, and…” to new business ideas and develop advanced capabilities that take the organization’s success to the next level.

Often, IT teams understand more than anyone about other departments within an enterprise — that is, unless your company is significantly siloed. Since they generally work with every other department, IT may be the only business unit with something close to a 360-degree view of your organization.

As a result, IT can make connections and spark new ideas for your business in ways other units can’t. For example, IT may know how a capability developed for one business unit could be translated to others, saving time and money. Working closely with the IT staff to leverage these unique insights should be on every IT leader and CIO’s to-do list.

  1. Evolve Your Leadership Mindset

Becoming a customer-centric company requires a large-scale transformation that impacts every person, every business unit, and every element of your business. More than anything, though, it requires a mindset shift. Just as IT teams need to think of themselves differently in a customer-centric organization, IT leaders and CIOs also need to approach everything about their roles differently.

Success is no longer just about task completion and checking things off a list. Success today is about your company’s ability to sense customer needs and respond quickly and seamlessly. Many leaders think of customer-centric digital transformation as a program they have to complete — but this mentality just doesn’t work. True transformation is never really complete; it’s an ongoing, ever-evolving process.

As a CIO, you need to analyze your own leadership mindset and make sure it’s grounded in a philosophy of learning. Historically, the relationship between IT and top-level business units has been about metrics driving an assumed need for perfection. Your responsibility to your IT team is to help them foster a culture of creativity, experimentation, and innovation. This will change the context within which IT operates, and pave the way to a more customer-centric future.

For more information on becoming a customer-centric organization, read about the 5 Trends Progressive IT Organizations Are Embracing to Drive Change.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.