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Forrester: CIOs need change IT function to improve customer experience

Derek du Preez | June 11, 2013
CIO analyst Nigel Fenwick believes CIOs can act as a change agent within the enterprise.

CIOs need to make a number of changes to the IT function in order to deliver better customer experience for the enterprise, claims Forrester's CIO analyst Nigel Fenwick.

Speaking to Computerworld UK ahead Forrester's CIO forum in London this week, Fenwick said that customer experience hasn't typically been on the CIO agenda - but this is changing with the emergence of digital technologies and the ability for customers to share their experiences of a company on social media.

He said that consumers are much more empowered to shift loyalties between brands and companies and can easily tell a huge amount of people about their experiences.

"Whether they are digital, telephony, or in person, the touch points (when a customer engages with a company) are supported by technologies. The customers that are really excelling at customer experience, they understand the customer journey, the customer touch points and the systems that support these," said Fenwick.

"More often than not they are implementing new applications on top - systems of engagement - such as digital mobile apps, which touch employees and customers directly. However, they do sometimes have to go further down the stack and dig deep."

Fenwick's research into the role of the CIO and companies that successfully use IT to improve customer experience, all have five common elements - design, empower, measure, organise and speed (DEMOS).

Design - Forrester argues that IT should play a role in the user interface (UI) design. It should advise the customer experience team on design points, so that applications are not only user friendly, but can scale.

Empower - Companies that successfully use IT to improve customer experience all have CIOs that empower their employees to have a say in customer experience. Fenwick said: "The IT employees [at the successful companies] felt like they weren't just there to code, they felt like they were there to offer suggestions on how to improve the customer experience".

Measure - Companies should be obsessive about measuring customer experience, down to a very granular level. They should look at customer touch points and measure the experiences to understand the data e.g. a retailer should measure checkout times. This will allow CIOs to measure their employees not just on things like budget and performance, but on customer experience improvement metrics.

Organise - In all the organisations that are excelling at customer experience, they had pivoted the IT function to allow for all customer facing applications to be under one team - separating out enterprise architecture into a different team. Fenwick said: "By doing this they are able to take a customer journey view of the technology, so they can see all of the technologies that support it."


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