Technology is at the core of almost all customer experiences — so not involving the CIO’s team in solution design or repair is short-sighted
The head of digital customer experience (CX) at a financial services provider in Australia was asked by her CEO not to work with the tech team, as it would just slow her down.
The CIO operated ‘slow IT’, could not support the pace of change that the CX team needed, and was ultimately replaced.
Forrester analyst Tim Sheedy cites this as an example of why CIOs and their teams need to be ‘integrated’ or have a close working relationship with their CX peers.
“CIOs need to make changes to their teams to better support CX initiatives — or lose relevance and face redundancy, like the CIO at this financial services provider,” writes Sheedy in a new report on how ICT teams can ‘work smarter’ with their CX peers.
Sheedy notes CIOs and their technology organisations develop and manage the systems that support nearly every customer experience (CX).
But few tech organisations are integrated with their CX peers, and many don’t even have a close working relationship.
There are many reasons for this gap.
One of them is that CX teams don’t include the CIO’s team in customer journey mapping activities.
“Technology is at the core of almost all customer experiences — so not involving the CIO’s team in solution design or repair is short-sighted,” he points out.
On the other hand, the tech team uses the term “customer” differently.
CX teams firmly focus on the external consumer of the company’s products and services, “the real customer”, says Sheedy.
But most members of the technology team still think of the customer as internal users of technology and applications or requestors of technology-based solutions within the business.
“They don’t think of customers as the people who ultimately buy or use the firm’s products or services.”
He says while this insight is already changing at the CIO level, many technology teams they interviewed for the research were still unclear which “customer” they really serve.
CIOs need to make changes to their teams to better support CX initiatives — or lose relevance and face redundancy
Read more: Now is the time to be customer obsessed
Look from the ‘outside in’
Sheedy recommends CIOs to cultivate an ‘outside in’ mindset within their teams, and for their teams to better understand customer language and experiences.
One way to do this is to engage with the “real customers”, he states.
He cites the CEO of a charity asked business leaders what they would do if they had unlimited funds.
While most teams held brainstorming sessions, the CIO spoke with the donors and recipients. The CIO then developed a list of tech-driven customer improvements that would make a difference in serving the different customer groups.
Sheedy says another example is the mobile development team of a bank spending time in branches, speaking to the customers and testing new ideas before these go live in the banking app.
They get instant feedback on what customers like and are likely to use. Features that get great feedback go straight into production and those that don’t are axed or go back to the CX team to be refined further.
“Use the same approach with your team members to help them understand customer challenges and pain points,” advises Sheedy.
CIOs and their teams can also brief CX teams on future technology projects.
Sheedy says CX teams often make decisions about processes that touch the systems ICT manages, but have no knowledge of the future roadmap for those systems.
“If you regularly brief the CX team on upcoming technology projects even before they kick off, then CX can design changes knowing what future technology iterations and capabilities may affect customer experiences and outcomes.”
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