No matter what industry we work in, we have all encountered CX. When CX is good, you hardly notice it. When CX is great, you are surprised and delighted. When CX is bad, customers tend to shout it from the rooftops.
Customer experience, or CX, is how a company interacts with their customers, either online, in person, or both. Every touchpoint creates an “experience”. Often relegated to product marketing departments, CX was once somewhat siloed, and certainly was never expected to be the responsibility of a CIO. CIOs need to prioritize technology availability, efficiency gains, and infrastructure modernization. However, if you want to be a top performing CIO, you must now be prepared to have a customer-centric approach.
Defining Customer Experience in a Post-Pandemic Era
10Pearls is not alone in encouraging our CIO clients to prioritize the customer. One look at the IDG State of the CIO survey reveals that 78% of responding IT leaders know that interacting directly with customers has increased in importance for them in the past year.
When one hypothesizes about why there is an increased need for CX with technology, one only needs to look to the past year and a half that we’ve been living through. The pandemic has accelerated technology at warp speed, and customers whose needs were not met online were loud about it. As a result, companies had to change, and change quickly. It’s no wonder that Forrester Research’s US 2021 Customer Experience Index found that 21% of brands saw a significant increase in their CX score compared to 2020. It wasn’t only digital native brands like Chewy.com or Etsy that were recognized by Forrester as the top 5% of CX elite– even retail organizations like Trader Joes and Navy Federal Credit Union were able to drastically improve their CX through tech.
Three ways to build CX-first technology
So how can you bring this to your organization, and be a top-performing, customer-focused CIO? Here are three tips to transform your department and build a world-class team.
1. Start a CFC: Customer-Focused Council
It is rare that a CIO or the IT department has a direct line to their customers, and theoretically, they don’t need to. Creating a steering committee around customer experience helps give you insight into customer feedback without burdening you to start from scratch. Working closely with members of the Product Marketing team, start a “council” that reports on customer insights, customer feedback, and even shows customer sentiment from social media. Meet regularly, and craft 2-3 action steps each time for your department based on what you’ve learned. Be sure to share the learnings and the changes with the rest of the C-suite, so they can recognize the collective efforts of the team.
2. Build a department with CX-first thinking in mind
As a CIO, you have gotten to a level in your career where you already inherently know that customer experience is important. The challenge that you now may face is getting your entire IT teams on board with that philosophy, training and mobilizing them to deliver on a CX promise.
Many of today’s top companies are adopting agile methodologies, which can bring customer feedback and input directly into the development process. By building customer feedback directly into your agile workflow, it becomes a part of the process, just like modernization or efficiency. It’s no longer a “we should get feedback”, it’s a piece of the puzzle that is necessary to complete a build.
3. Incorporate a CX KPI into performance metrics
IT teams are measured on speed and efficiency. But more recently, top CIOs have added another metric to that list– and that is a customer satisfaction score. Many have been using Net Promoter Scores to determine whether they’re meeting customer expectations. While a CIO and their team are not wholly responsible for this metric, it is a lagging indicator of how a company’s technology has evolved. Even if you don’t incorporate NPS into a tech team’s success metrics, consider reviewing the scores quarterly, and then meet with your council to determine how tech can help improve those scores.