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How to call on customers

Martha Heller | Jan. 28, 2011
CIOs and their teams must spend more quality time with end customers

Don’t talk tech. “For many CIOs, technology is the first place we mentally go when trying to solve problems,” says Armstrong’s Martin. “But in these meetings, you are a business executive trying to improve the customer experience.” Frame the conversation in terms of processes and experiences, rather than throwing out a bunch of new application ideas. “Don’t paint yourself into a corner where every problem can be solved by IT.”

“Start with, ‘Tell me how you use our products,’ then use that knowledge to generate ideas,” adds Bhasin.

Close the loop. OK. You’ve met the customer, built the relationship and brainstormed some great ideas. Before you call it a day, you need to feed those ideas back to the business. To ensure a speedy path from idea to delivery, Nalco has developed a formal set of follow-up principles for the customer-facing IT team that includes prioritization, communication and accountability. Whether your customers are middle-aged couples who dress their dogs in little outfits or huge corporations that need to cut costs, their reliance on technology is only increasing. It is time to get outside your company and look them in eye.


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