Poor Customer Experience – Is it a marketing or IT issue?

I have always believed bad customer experience with a company is primarily due to lack of alignment/ synergy with various departments involved in delivering value or service to the customer. When the departments’ objectives are not aligned and if they don’t work together closely, superior customer experience can never become a reality. In this era of all pervasive technology across the enterprise, increasingly marketing and IT must talk and work with each other to make this happen. CIO Magazine has a nice article on this topic:

Indeed, every time you see significant dysfunction in the way a company or brand interacts with its customers, it is not the fault of one corporate function but two—both marketing and technology. The combination of people and technology deployed across multiple service channels fails to provide the basic services you sought, let alone the world class services you expected.

So when will CIOs and CMOs join forces to address these challenges, not from their well-defended functional silos but together? The answer: when both parties take time to fully understand and account for the impact their solutions will have on the consumer.

It’s Not What You Sell, It’s How You Sell It

When corporations grow to mass market proportions, their scale alone creates complexity that requires one or more presentation layers. Indeed, without integrating a corporation’s touch points into an appropriately configured presentation layer, a company’s offerings (its brands, products and services) and its operations (its people, organisation and processes) can behave in ways that make little sense to customers and present a corporate “face” that’s wildly inconsistent from one customer encounter to the next. Such conditions can also create opaque, unresponsive or simply uncaring corporate behaviors, which don’t align with the intent of most corporate brands.

It’s the art of interaction that makes the difference between great brands that transcend the fate of individual product or service offerings (Nike, Starbucks, or Lexus), and those that live and die based on the often short-term viability of what they have to sell (Reebok, Burger King, or General Motors). It’s a new frontier of competition, and winning requires integrated marketing and IT savvy.

Restructuring the CIOCMO Relationship

The strategic dialogue between CIO and CMO must begin with consensus as to the desired customer experience and brand. Often these conversations are best guided by an outside facilitator with objective hearing and broad industry context. This probing can highlight impediments of the company’s organisational structure and governance, management incentives, and enterprise economics. Together, the CIO and CMO must know the customer perspective on these issues:-

  • Have we deployed the right touch points (human and technology) in the right places in the right ways—and do we have we too many or too few?
  • Have we optimised each of our touch points according to customers’ preferences and needs, by customer segment and usage occasion?
  • Have we understood the processes or pathways our customers select to interact with our company in each and every purchase or re-purchase cycle?
  • Have we aligned and integrated those touch points (along with the people, processes and systems that enable them) into consistent and coordinated expressions of brand and offerings to deliver coherent customer experiences?

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