It’s official. What’s old is new again. An IBM study released this month about CIOs shows a growing alignment with (drumroll, please) pleasing the customer. There is a strange irony here. It used to be that back in the day the mantra was “The Customer Is Always Right.” As companies started consolidating, this mantra got lost. Customer service started to be a “check-the-box” sort of function rather than a true service. There was a disconnect between companies and the customers they served.
Customer service started sounding something like this:
Company: You have reached the ABC Company. Please choose among the 17 following options
Caller: (Presses 0)
Company: You’ve pressed an incorrect key. Very bad behavior. Now you’ll have to listen to the options again.
Caller: (listens to options and presses a number)
Company: Now choose among 5 more options
Caller: None of these options make sense for me. Hello?
Company: We can’t understand you. Would you like to be returned to the main menu?
Company: You have reached the ABC Company. Please choose among the following options.
Caller: I hate your @(*&#*&$ products!
Once a caller is finally connected to the right person, sometimes that person does not have the technical skills to solve the problem. And the treadmill starts all over again. Why customers have put up with this for so many years is a mystery to me.
We’ve written previously about what customers should expect from software support for their IBM i servers. But what is evident in the report on what CIOs are thinking about in 2014 is that getting in alignment with the customer is not just about customer service. It’s about anticipating the kind of online experience a customer expects before they even become a customer. The technology for making this intuitive and reactive experience a reality falls on IT.
Can software completely solve this challenge? No. There are lots of moving pieces. But software can be a powerful tool to solve some of the issues quickly and for a minimal investment.
- Downtime is deadly. Customers expect a fluid easily navigated online experience with companies 24/7. Message monitoring software lets you set sentries so that you get immediate notification via text and email that a server is near capacity, power is down, and dozens of other alerts.
- Email communications with customers should be brand compatible. Forms software gives you the capability to easily create email communications with your own logo and colors and automate distribution.
- Database query software keeps your servers running at optimal capacity by simplifying the query process. This frees up capacity to run other software programs to mine data without having to add to your physical infrastructure.
- Spool file software helps you grab the key customer data on your servers and get it ready to be formatted into PDF or excel reports for marketing and sales.
According to the IBM report, more than two-thirds of CIOs feel they have mastered the technology basics necessary to power their companies and are now shifting focus to customer-facing areas like marketing and sales. They are investing in technologies like sentiment mining and social network analysis to bring their company better insights into customer data.
Other findings include a sharp rise in the importance of cloud computing from 30% in 2009 to 64% this year. Mobility solutions also rose in importance with 68 percent labeling it as their top priority five years ago compared with 84% today.
Back in November, I wrote a blog about what is on the mind of your CIO and why you should care about it. We talked about how the CIO’s job is evolving and getting more aligned with business goals. Certainly, as indicated by this new IBM report and by others, this mindset is growing and is getting CIOs more firmly entrenched at the C-suite table as a power player.
What this means to you in IT is still the same – all IT personnel from programmers and computer operators to engineers and managers need to start thinking less about “IT project work” and more about how IT can help their company achieve business goals. Helping each department get the best output from their IBM Power Systems, get it into reports, and automate the process is a step in the right direction.