Is Customer Experience All About Technology?

A Guest Post by Esteban Kolsky, industry influencer (pictured left)

For the final post of this four-part series, we undertake the most interesting (and maybe the most confusing) topic of the entire project.

To refresh your memory, we are exploring what it means to implement a customer experience initiative at your organization. We started by discussing who owns the customer experience,followed by a discussion of the people considerations surrounding an implementation, and then the process demands of doing so. We are now going to discuss the technology requirements necessary to adopt a customer experience initiative.

Remember, this series is all about asking key questions about each topic and using the answers to generate a framework to help adopt the initiative or project to deploy customer experience. Thus, here are the four questions related to technology.

First, is technology necessary?

This is the first question you should always, always ask yourself when undertaking a transformation project in your organization. We tend to assume that all these projects depend on technology. After all, most vendors describe wonderful benefits of using technology, and most projects we read or hear about rely on technology. Surely it is necessary, in some form. The answer is not that simple.

There are many parts of changing the customer experience that are not dependent, reliant, or that even need, technology. Some of the experiences your customers expect are not based on more or better technology, but in changing the training plan, or changing a location, or even changing a manual process. There are overlaps between this question (is technology necessary?) and those asked in past posts, so make sure you understand all implications and ramifications of the answers.

Action Items: Undertake an inventory of the critical aspects of your initiative and identify processes that don’t require technology – and put them at the top of the list.

Second, is technology the answer?

In certain situations, technology might be just what you need. You can change your processes and improve the training (as covered in previous posts), but is yours a case where technology is the only answer? Technology can speed up existing processes and outcomes; this acceleration by itself (meaning, nothing else changes) can shine a light on previously non-performing processes that are inefficient. So the addition of technology can be a temporary, short-term solution to getting bogged down processes moving.

Action Item: Identify whether simply adding technology can provide an answer to the imminent problem, and if not, relegate technology to a necessary evil and plan appropriately.

Third, do you need to worry about technology?

At this point, you might be thinking that you can deploy customer experience initiatives without technology. Or, if embracing a better experience is more about changing processes and culture, it will be simple to find and implement the needed technology. Alas, that is the wrong attitude.

Anyone considering a customer experience initiative definitely must be concerned about technology. And that includes the technology that is currently being used, as well as the potentially new technology introduced in the project. As delineated in the previous questions, technology might be part of the answer and thus will need to adapt to the existing problem and the potential solution. This adaptation and the ancillary work to do it could be pivotal for the project; therefore, you should know and understand what technology can do (and has done) for your situation and how to tap into it.

Action Item: identify the technologies that are being used and understand their worry points and addressable solutions.

Fourth, what can technology do for customer experience?

Technology can provide immense value to the well-implemented customer experience initiative. Online surveys and communities, powered by technology, are essential. Analyzing the responses from those tools and deducing insights is done via analytics – another technology. Deploying multi-channel solutions requires channel management and integration tools – more technology. Changing, documenting, and maintaining processes are usually done with technology. The point is that technology is an aid in virtually all actions undertaken for customer experience projects. It is an ancillary item that improves the odds and outcomes of the solution, but is never the solution. That is what technology can do for customer experience.

Action Item: Determine the role technology will play in any customer experience initiative and plan the best way to adopt it as a tool to solve a problem, not as the solution.

We have arrived at the end of this project. We described the people, process, and technology aspects of adopting a customer experience initiative. We answered the question of who should own customer experience projects. And we set up the basic elements to create a framework in all instances of these projects to better plan and adopt long-term successful initiatives.

We successfully accomplished what we set out to do-–create a list of questions that will allow organizations to plan and adopt better customer experience initiatives.

While I am sure there are questions that may be asked differently or items I may have missed, I am pretty confident that using the questions exposed in this series will help you implement a better customer experience project.

What has your experience been in these issues? Something else you can add?

Note: You can respond via my blog or scroll down and leave a reply.


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