Updated

How Can CIOs Become More Customer-Centric?

istock 1172642339
iStock

The link between great customer experiences and long-term business success has never been clearer. Eighty-four percent of customers now say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. For most companies, technology is at the heart of today’s best customer experiences.

CIOs know this, which is why 55% of them are now spending more time learning about their customers’ needs. The age of the customer-centric CIO has just started, and with it comes the promise of better experiences for customers and better results for companies.

If you have questions about what it really means to be a customer-centric CIO, you’re in the right place. Here are answers to six common questions about customer centricity, along with tips for how to transform your organization to focus on customer success.

  1. What does it really mean to be a customer-centric CIO?

Being customer-centric means putting the customer at the center of everything. This is true for CIOs and for every other role at your organization. You need to understand who your customers are, and what they need to accomplish their own goals. When you know what your customers’ goals are, you can start working toward helping them meet those objectives.

Every program you prioritize as CIO should align to your customers’ objectives. Technology is about giving customers the tools they need to be successful, whether it’s content, functionality, or services. When possible, you should even prioritize customer success over your own internal company goals — because when your customers are satisfied, you may achieve company goals in new ways.

  1. How can your company become more customer-centric?

To be a successful customer-centric CIO you must be part of a customer-centric company. This means companies must identify their key customers and make them known throughout the organization. Everyone at the company should be trained to have real empathy for customers, and let customer goals lead their business decisions.

Prioritize projects that focus on addressing customer needs, and reward employees for putting customers first. The vision and values of your whole company must be customer-oriented. If they are not currently, talk to other leaders in your organization about spearheading ongoing company-wide change.

Becoming more customer-centric truly demands time, effort, and investment. Seventy-five percent of CIOs believe their companies will need to make significant changes to keep up with customer expectations. This requires unifying disparate departments, data sources, and silos — plus experimenting with new forms of customer engagement and incorporating customer feedback into decision-making.

  1. How can CIOs find out what customers actually want?

Technology can help you understand what customers want. At most companies, different departments have different pieces of the puzzle concerning customer needs — but very few have a holistic, 365-degree view of customers. With the right technologies and automated data analysis, your company can get a full picture of your customers’ real wants and needs.

Beyond technology, it’s essential to perform customer research. Interviews and focus groups can help you determine goals and objectives for reaching each audience persona. For example, imagine your target audience is working mothers aged 35-45. You should engage a subset of this audience to better understand their pain points and learn how your company – with IT spearheading technology suggestions – can help meet their needs.

  1. How does the design of tech solutions impact customer experience?

First, it’s important to invest in technology that gives IT teams (and other teams) a holistic view of customers. Your company’s website and mobile apps can collect customer data that will help you create richer digital customer experiences.

With the right data, you can change the way you work and alter the tech you build to offer your customers the most relevant content, products, and services. When you position all of your technology development around your customers, you will naturally impact their digital experiences in positive and innovative ways.

  1. How can CIOs inspire IT teams to be more customer-centric?

For your IT team, inspiration to be more customer-centric should come from the same place it does for all your company’s employees: the top. There should be an overall leadership vision for customer centricity at your company. Teams — including IT teams — need to understand how their roles impact customer experience and how they can help drive success for their customers and the company alike.

Your IT team should use a “customer-centric filter” as they approach projects. This means prioritizing tasks based on what’s best for customers, instead of prioritizing them based on price or other metrics. Everything IT teams do should tie to better serving your customers. Whenever possible, IT should also collaborate with other departments to develop digital solutions that address customer needs.

  1. What stops CIOs from becoming more customer-centric?

Customer centricity isn’t just a project: it’s a mindset. Don't think of it as a goal or a set of milestones your company can reach and then move on. A customer-centric perspective should influence all of your company’s efforts from this day forward — it’s the present and future key to business success. 

Remember: customer-centricity is about your entire company, not just one department. Do not let IT work in a silo. For customer success, it’s essential to partner with other business units in meaningful ways. This is the only way to integrate the goals of your business with the needs of your customers and develop tech solutions that address both.

The CIOs who are most successful are those who embrace a customer-centric approach and collaborate with other business units for customer success. No IT team should develop technology for technology’s sake. Technology should always be developed for the sake of your customers, and to help your company serve them better.

Learn more about building a customer-centric organization.

Related:

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.