Traditional thinking often relegates technology employees – even executives like the CIO and CTO – as back-office positions, supporting the day-to-day operations of a company without directly interfacing with customers or impacting the bottom line. However, as customers move their business interactions to an increasingly online and social media-driven world, CIOs find that the customer experience is increasingly within their purview. The savvy CIO will finds ways to focus resources on improving the customer experience, which can make a big difference across the entire sales funnel.
Reputation economies are growing fast in today’s digital and interconnected world, with word of mouth having a direct and proven impact on sales. With low online barriers for both complaints and praise, customers are likely to take to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms to call out outstanding customer experiences – and disappointing ones. In fact, poor word-of-mouth alone is estimated to cost US companies $41 billion each year, and that number doesn’t count the cost of customers who have a bad experience and simply turned away, never completed a purchase, or never returned.
More and more of a customer’s experience with a company is filtered through the online and technological presence of the company. Between 2015 and 2016, for the first time in history, consumers became more likely to make purchases onlinethan in a brick-and-mortar store, and everything from fresh groceries to B2B enterprise data solutions are moving onto the internet. This means that a CIO is positioned to control one of the most important front-office fields within a company.
Managing the Customer Experience
Content management systems (CMS) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems are two of the basic platforms for managing the customer experience. The CRM system monitors and analyzes customer response through a variety of points of contact, from website hits to call center interactions, delivering actionable data to CIO teams. Meanwhile, the CMS tailors a customer’s experience to their needs and preferences.
For example, the CRM for a design software company might track statistics on website hits, and discover that marketing and product information pages are overwhelmingly visited by designers with high-resolution, multi-monitor setups – whereas later in the sales funnel, orders are placed by executives on mobile devices such as tablets, or more middle-of-the-road desktops with monitors. Understanding this breakdown allows a CIO to target each visitor persona with a website experience modeled for their unique environment, leading to positive responses from the customer.
Bringing the CIO and technology staff into the front office may require a hard look at the scope of the position, as well as re-training, clarifying business goals, and auditing existing processes. But the results can bring the power of digital transformation to the company’s growth and sales.