customer-experience-croppedAs companies push further ahead with their digital strategies, it’s increasingly evident how CIOs play an integral role in helping their companies deliver enhanced customer experiences. 

The proof is in the results. According to the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey 2018 which canvassed 3,958 IT leaders, customer-centric organizations are 38% more likely to report greater profitability than those that aren’t customer-centric. 

There are multiple ways that CIOs can step up their involvement in fashioning top-rate customer experiences.

“CIOs should start by ensuring that their own IT organizations are customer-centric,” says Nathalie Rachline, Chief Operating Officer at Visual Farms and an Advisory Board member for HMG Strategy’s upcoming 2019 Denver CIO Executive Leadership Summit which is taking place on September 5. “If a CIO does not have their organization structured with their internal clients with customer centricity in mind, they won’t be well positioned to help the business address the end customer.”

“Today’s customer has been evolving on how they want to interact with the organization,” says Mark Hellbusch, a Principal at Nuspire and a fellow Advisory Board member for the Denver summit. “So, the CIO needs to have a good understanding of how older people are adopting technology as well as younger people who have grown up with technology. The CIO needs to blend those two together to deliver the experience their customers come to expect from a behavioral standpoint.”

“CIOs need to be change agents,” says JP Batra, CTO and Principal at Blue River International, Inc. who is also an Advisory Board member for the Denver summit. “Technology-based disruption has become pervasive! Being technologists themselves, CIOs are best positioned to educate their peer CXOs on emerging tech’s impact on business and suggest ways for the business to take a leadership role.”

Many CIOs are also becoming more involved in fostering a culture of customer centricity within their organizations. One way to do this is by taking a deeper dive into customer data and sharing these insights with the CMO and other key stakeholders. 

“CIOs should look at the data they have about customers – what they buy, how they buy and how they use their products to identify patterns. This data can be used by product development and marketing teams to determine where their customers are going,” says Helmut Oehring, Executive Vice President at Asteelflash and a fellow Advisory Board member for the Denver summit.

It’s also important to look at things from the customer’s point of view. “You have to start thinking in terms of what customers value – shifting from a focus on products to those things that are value-driven for customers,” says Batra.

“Putting yourself in the place of the customer absolutely has to start with the CIO,” says Hellbusch. “Members of the IT team tend to be disconnected from how things are propagated out to the public. For instance, in healthcare, IT team members need to understand how their roles impact the care of a patient.”

Until recently, CIOs have rarely been involved in a company’s product development cycle. But by doing so, CIOs and their teams can better understand how customers are using a company’s products and ascertain additional features and functionality that customers may be seeking, says Oehring.

Of course, one of the best ways for CIOs and their teams to gain a deeper understanding of customers is by spending more time with them.  “The CIO needs to be a part of those teams that meet regularly with customers,” says Rachline. “These types of interactions can help CIOs to better understand what customers are looking for.”

One of the ways that CIOs can work with line-of-business leaders in delivering on customer goals is by utilizing technologies such as artificial intelligence along with customer data and analytics to better understand and respond to customer needs. “This shifts CIOs from being order takers to a partner that’s delivering value,” says Batra.

Hellbusch advises meeting with business unit leaders each month to discover the top challenges they’re facing. “When you understand what their problems are, you can place yourself in their shoes and the issues they’re trying to address with customers.” 

To learn more about the Denver summit and to register for the event, click here.