As it appeared in the Daily Nation of December 16th 2014
At a past speaking engagement in a leading bank, the CEO sought to know what I foresaw as a key game changer of the customer experience in the banking sector. Technology was my best bet. In recent years, the customer experience has been greatly enhanced by technology not only in the banking sector but across all other sectors. George Colony and Peter Burris’ report “Technology Management in the Age of the Customer“ points out the importance of customer experience as a common language for information technology and customer-facing groups to build successful customer experiences. To support business performance, managers in charge of information technology and those in charge of the customer experience must work together to improve the overall customer experience through use of technology.
One or two decade ago many things were inconceivable. Who would have imaged that one can transfer money to a bank account through the mobile phone or make an online purchase in the comfort of their home. Today customers have benefited greatly from technology. They have been saved trips to the bank to check their account balances and trips to the stock broker to place an order. Customer service technology has evolved from Customer Relations Management (CRM) software and it continues to the customer experience more efficient. Today, technology provides multiple customer communication channels. One can not only telephone, they can email, tweet, chat or text. Customer service technologies such as automated ticketing systems and self service tools continue to gain popularity. When I visited Chilis Restaurant in the USA midyear, I was fascinated to see the menu, order and payment mini screen at every table. In the health care sector too, I witnessed doctors’ clinics with an online patient’s history questionnaire and hospitals that have adopted digital charting for ease of patient report generation. New technologies that provide a better customer experience are on the rise!
Many companies are today more interested in data management and analytics than ever before. Technology has greatly enabled organizations to better manage and analyze their customers’ data. Several organizations are using customer data to analyze customer preferences and even to intelligently predict what it is that the customer is likely to need or purchase in future. A customer who is diabetic for example does not need to make a request every time they fly an airline that captures and stores such information. Customer data too is being used to support reward and recognition of loyal customers.
As a service excellence specialist, I keep a steady eye on trends and innovations in the customer experience ecosystem. I have in addition engaged information technology managers on the need to lead the way in customer experience improvement through technology. My key questions to every customer service professional are – How involved are you in technology decisions? Are you in a position to influence these decisions? How are you ensuring that long-term technology strategy supports your desired customer experience? And to every information technology manager my question is – do you appreciate the role of technology in improving the customer experience? Are you working in collaboration with the customer experience team or are you working in isolation? Smart companies that are using technology to improve their customer experience will without doubt stay ahead of the pack.
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org/old or via twitter @kiruthulucy