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Align IT with the Real End Customer

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Ensure IT and the business are working towards the same goal: improving customer experience.

Your Challenge

Organizations are becoming increasingly focused on the customer and much of this focus places technology at the center. However, the business units feel uncomfortable working with IT for customer-related projects because they don’t believe that IT understands the customer. IT struggles to understand what they should be doing different to support this growing customer-focus.
Often by the time feedback from the customer reaches IT, it has been passed through many layers of the organization, altering the message. This process of passing on feedback is typically slow, delaying changes to customer solutions.
Despite being uniquely positioned across the organization, IT is generally removed from decisions regarding the end customer. IT staff are unsure how to come forth with ideas that could benefit the end customer resulting in many good ideas going unnoticed.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

Becoming aligned with the customer is doable. By taking a step-by-step, holistic approach, the CIO can build a customer-centric IT department.
Business unit heads are a key partner throughout this project. IT must engage the customer with the business.
To minimize surprises, build an iterative process called a feedback loop to continually respond to customer preferences.

Impact and Result

Being successful does not require turning your developers into sales representatives. Instead, take a process-driven approach, grounded in what you know.
IT and the business must collaborate to talk to the customer together rather than the business passing on customer feedback to IT. Changing the process is absolutely essential to the success of this project.
Develop feedback loops between IT and the customer. Balance the feedback mechanism you choose with the size of investment and the delay your organization is willing to undertake.

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Align IT with the Real End Customer

  1. 1. Align IT With the Real End Customer Ensure IT and the business are working towards the same goal: improving customer experience. Organizations are becoming increasingly focused on the customer and much of this focus places technology at the center. However, the business units feel uncomfortable working with IT on customer-related projects because they don’t believe that IT understands the customer. The CIO struggles to understand what IT should be doing differently to support this growing customer-focus. To align IT with the customer, take a process-based approach that won’t involve turning your developers into sales representatives. As IT departments grow increasingly world class, becoming customer-focused is a natural next step. Visualize three stages: Stage 1. IT Centric: Deliver Basic Services Stage 2. Business Centric: Deliver Reliable Internal Solutions Stage 3. Customer Centric: Deliver Customer Value – emphasize moving from Stage 2 to Stage 3 The traditional business model where IT serves internal business customers, who in turn serve the organization’s external customers, does not meet current realities. When customer feedback is passed through the organization, there is often a “telephone game” effect. The message is altered slightly by each stakeholder, either deliberately or accidentally. The result is a distorted customer message arriving in IT and ultimately a negative customer experience. To improve the accuracy of the message, IT needs to get to the Direct Voice of the customer instead of the Indirect Voice. IT and the business must collaborate to talk to the customer together rather than the business passing on customer feedback to IT. Changing the process is absolutely essential to the success of this project. If you do not change the process, you can’t expect anything positive to happen. Develop feedback loops between IT and the customer. Balance the feedback mechanism you choose with the size of investment and the delay your organization is willing to undertake. To ensure the process changes are successful, the CIO needs to combine both “push” tactics like communication and training, with “pull” tactics like adjusting IT staff performance metrics. When customer feedback is passed through the organization, there is often a “telephone game” effect. To improve the accuracy of the message, IT needs to get to the Direct Voice of the customer instead of the Indirect Voice. IT should be talking to customers with the business. The business is an essential partner in this project. Make sure you have their support before moving forward with the planning phase. When you map your current IT and customer processes, you are likely to find that IT isn’t necessarily building what the customer needs. Instead, they are building what the business thinks the customer needs or what IT thinks the customer needs. Customers are always changing their minds and often have trouble describing what they want until they see it in front of them. The last thing you want to do is invest heavily in an idea, then find that it may not be what customers want. To minimize surprises, build an iterative process called a feedback loop to continually respond to customer preferences. Break process changes down into manageable initiatives to ease the transition. Prioritization must happen based not only on which initiatives are most important, but also on which initiatives must happen first, logistically. Embedding IT in the business is a great way to ensure a smooth flow of customer information, but it requires the right culture to support it. To determine metrics for IT, it is essential to first step back and examine the behaviors you would like to reward. Having a shared vision is important, but stakeholders will want to know right away what this project means to them. When preparing the messages that will be conveyed to each group, make sure you have done your homework and can identify the impact this change will have on their role, at least at a high level. Experiential training is an excellent way to “break the mold” with your training methods and provide IT staff the opportunity to interact with the customer and to better understand their needs.

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