Tag Archives: CIO Insight

Transforming IT is Crucial to Customer Centricity

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The explosion of digital technologies and acceleration of innovation is bringing IT into the center of the business – not because of IT itself, but because of its impact on customer experience and the business. CIOs are demanding their teams turn their attention away from internal issues to focus on external customers – a challenge that is difficult for many IT people to face.

Julia King’s article on how JetBlue, Chico’s FAS and PulteGroup outlines some of their initiatives to shift the IT mindset to external customers. (CIO, May 29, 2015)

JetBlue Airways went through an airport mapping process and found (what we as customers already know) that check-in was meaningless and added no value to the customer. In fact we might say it detracts value. The no check-in initiative is part of the company’s goal to deliver superlative customer service embodied in their mantra of “personal, helpful, simple.” An executive at jetBlue reports that to move IT to an effective level of customer focus requires a big mindshift. IT leaders have become immersed in customer connection programs, been sent to emerging markets like the Dominican Republic to better understand customer needs and tied part of their compensation packages to customer satisfaction metrics.

Chico’s FAS Inc., providing fashion clothing labels for women, understands the value technology can provide for its customers. CIO, Eric Singleton, and his 250-person IT team visit retail stores to see how consumers interact with a touchscreen that shows shoppers additional items not displayed in-store. This has added 15%-20% increases on in-store sales.

PulteGroup that provides new construction homes, decided in 2010 to launch a new mission to become more “customer-inspired”. It overhauled its IT function by appointing a director of customer engagement and a team of IT people under him all with skills that enabled them to positively engage with marketing people and homebuilders. Whilst they needed technical skills they were hired for their ability to walk into a model home and advise a sales consultant about their needs in a non-technical way. At Pulte they now talk of IT as part of the business and their role in creating value for external customers.

The next step for these companies and the many others that need to transform IT into a customer value creation function is to measure the level of customer centricity as an embedded culture in their group. The MRI (Market Responsiveness Index) is a validated tool that measures and benchmarks customer centricity of a company, business unit and function. This helps consolidate a focus on external customers and identifies priorities for initiatives that will embed customer value creation in IT and other functions in the business.

JetBlue uses Twitter – Listens to Customers, Grabs New Business

Part of the reason I haven’t been blogging as much as I should be is because I have been “micro-blogging” on this fascinating site called Twitter.  If you haven’t heard of this yet, check out their FAQs or read a Newsweek article. Find out how it can be used by businesses through CIO Insight.

Today I’m drawn in by a video interview of the guys that created the site on FastCompany TV.  (And for those keeping track at home, I found out about the video on Twitter.)  At 12:23 into the video came a story about how JetBlue uses Twitter.  It was fascinating and one of the most eye-opening examples of fantastically strong market culture in action.

JetBlue set up an account and used it to monitor comments about the company.  Then they started offering real time deals.  All along they were listening to the community and when folks were gearing up for South by Southwest (an annual tech/music festival in Austin, TX) but couldn’t find flights, JetBlue jumped in and offered more flights.  Awesome marketing and awesome market culture!

Customer Insight – knowing where the spot demand was

Competitor Awareness – everyone else must be booked too

Collaborative Networks – real time info from the clients influenced an operational decision, “Can we give them more flights?”  “You betcha!”

Decision Making with a Long-term Focus – what kind of positive buzz and customer loyalty do you think that little profitable move made?

Leadership – it was a corporate decision to engage the customer at this level, evidenced here

I am a huge fan of Twitter and stories like this are empowering.  Jeremiah Owyang runs Web Strategy by Jeremiah where he outlined some additional tools you can use to improve your Twitter experience.  I recommend you check that out if/when you set up an account.  Then be sure and follow me!