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CIOs under fire as customers want more

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Your customers today demand more than good products or services. They expect an exceptional customer experience.
“CEOs, CIOs and chief marketing officers have become interested in this topic because low-cost and ubiquitous access to information for customers, the rise of globalization, and the ‘death of distance’ mean that customers are more empowered than ever,” says Ed Thompson, research vice president at Gartner.
In fact, in Gartner’s 2015 CEO survey, customer experience management (CEM) ranked right at the top of the CEO’s agenda.
While customer experience may sound like like a problem for sales or marketing, the CIO plays a vital role in the customer experience equation and must become a driving force in CEM.
Customer experience leaders say half the projects they are working on involve technology, and IT plays a strong role in those projects. “The IT department is perceived to be highly, or extremely, involved in the customer experience initiative in 80% of the cases, according to the heads of customer experience initiatives,” says Thompson.
The CIO must take a leading role in pushing the company toward delivering better CEM. There are five stages of maturity – initial, developing, defined, Managed, and optimising. CIOs must assess their company’s current state of CEM, then build a strategic roadmap toward creating a superior customer experience that will serve as a sustainable differentiator.
The Gartner Customer Experience Management Maturity Model helps CIOs and companies determine their current CEM state and where they need to go next. The five stages include:
* Level 1: Getting Started – Companies have disconnected and disorganized processes in place. They must address basic questions such as, “What is the customer experience”, and “How do we measure the impact?”
* Level 2: Capturing the Voice of the Customer – Companies with an established “voice of the customer” role should identify and apply the best practices they’ve learned from studying customer feedback and observing other organisations.
* Level 3: Engaging Your Executives – Senior management is now engaged in defining a vision. Goals, practices and performance metrics are fully defined. It is time to drive innovation.
* Level 4: Managing Profit Parity – Executives give customer experience equal importance with profit, making it important for all employees and integrating it in the company’s system. The focus turns to vision, strategy, metrics, governance, organisation, processes and technology.
* Level 5: Optimising Culture Change – The organisation’s culture changes to where employees do the right thing without being asked, given incentives or pressured. Employees are empowered to take action and innovate.
Enhancing the customer experience is a team sport, demanding participation from across the company. The CIO must step into a lead role on that team and show how technology can boost the customer experience and grow the company.