Make those minutes count

The Front-Office Transformation of the Modern CIO

Customer ExperienceTraditional 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

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.

How Learning Sales Can Help IT Teams

t2-jan-blog-2Disruption of emerging trends constantly keeps the IT industry alert — or at least it should in certain cases. Some of the buzz terms that define new developments in technology include Internet of Everything, digital transformation, and microservices.

Meanwhile, the cloud, containers, and the Internet of Things (IoT) appear to be established norms that aren’t going away. Furthermore, many companies aspire to integrate downloadable applications with their services. Here are reasons computer consultants need to balance focus on these developments with sales.

Innovations vs. Distractions

One of the biggest challenges of the tech support industry is to sort between meaningful innovations and marketing distractions. Is it necessary to devote time to every trend, such as the consumerization of IT? It actually depends on the goals, resources, and clientele of each provider, since there are multiple ways to resolve any specific problem.

Making the field more complicated is the niche branding of “as a Service” concepts that have been inspired by the SaaS boom. The question becomes: how much time should firms that market themselves as tech experts spend on learning trends that may have little effect on their markets?

The answer needs to stay close to the organization’s budget and the needs of existing clients. If a technology provider invests too much in new technology, this can drain the budget or lock in clients it cannot efficiently serve. Too much focus on how to manage multiple data streams can lead to diminishing returns, which is why it helps to specialize in certain areas while still offering broad packages.

Many times new technology is redundant and merely introduces new semantics to the industry. AWS EC2 instances, for example, essentially equate to VMware vSphere virtual machines (VMs). Even for the most experienced tech talent, this proliferation of variations can create confusion while draining resources on learning subtle differences in these services. One of the best ways for tech professionals to filter through this cutter is to learn sales.


What Tech Pros Should Know About Sales

Although IT and sales are often considered separate professions, learning sales helps tech experts adopt valuable skills that can enhance their careers by influencing colleagues and technology within the companies they work for. Understanding the sales process gives tech professionals an edge in problem solving when they deal directly with customer needs. It helps them communicate and see through marketing hype better instead of thinking in terms of technical jargon.

Here are basic sales steps that can help tech pros advance their careers by making better decisions for customers:

  1. Set the stage for expectations and resource needs by focusing on solving a problem instead of promoting features.
  2. Master solutions by knowing the differences in when and where to apply them.
  3. Improve consistency and control by applying the solution to a process.
  4. Deliver persuasive presentations that point toward clear and logical decisions.
  5. Move the pitch forward by focusing on the end result.
  6. Emphasize value while weighing costs attributed to time and labor.
  7. Be conscious of time and attitude factors that influence mindset.

Even though there’s an industry stereotype that tech support and sales don’t mix, it’s advantageous for tech support teams to develop sales skills, which can contribute to customer satisfaction as well as enhance their careers. The more skills they can bring to their organizations, the better career opportunities they will have.