Customer Experience (CX) Drives Competitive Advantage

Technology is more than an enabler of effective and efficient service delivery in support of changing business needs; it’s the bridge to customer satisfaction – and revenue.

By Diana L. Mirakaj

For quite some time now, customer demand, technological complexity, speed of change, and cost have been shifting the focus of IT from products to business outcomes. For solution providers, delivering those outcomes means optimizing the services they provide. And to hone those services, solution providers should look within first – at their governance, funding, and operating model. A deficiency in any of these areas can significantly alter the outcome of any efforts to optimize services. You may be wondering, “What does all this have to do with the customer experience (CX)?”

You’d be surprised how much.

Many companies aim high and invest big – with disruptive initiatives and bold innovations aimed at impressing existing customers and winning new ones – but they don’t reap any rewards. They incur costs without achieving ROI. As a result, what started as a “big transformation” gets watered down into a less-than-effective marketing campaign designed to increase customer satisfaction.

In transforming CX, questions frequently get raised about a solution provider’s internal business practices, cross-functional priorities, and investment strategies. Therefore, it’s wise to examine those inside fundamentals before tackling external objectives.

The strength of a relationship between a solution provider and its customers often determines the latter’s overall “experience.” But what makes for a truly positive customer experience? Some would say providing services at the lowest cost is essential, but that’s not always the case. Solution providers need to develop other strengths over and above efficiency in costs, such as helping customers enter new markets, quickly scale operations, and identify opportunities to innovate. In many cases, customers depend on solution providers to help keep their businesses running effectively and efficiently. It’s about far more than selling boxes with managed services.

Addressing CX presents endless opportunities. To take advantage of them, you should take stock of your own capabilities and approaches first.

To deliver a positive customer experience, you need to do several things:

1. Develop a better understanding of the customer – the complexities they face and the trade-offs they’re willing to make – so you can address their challenges and deliver business outcomes.

2. Decide on an objective or end-state that differentiates your value proposition from competitors’.

3. Establish a comprehensive set of capabilities to support the complete customer service lifecycle.

4. Reach a consensus with all stakeholders to help prioritize opportunities to improve a customer’s financial performance, particularly if it impacts the entire organization.

5. Define the right solution to meet the needs of both business and technology stakeholders within the customer environment.

As solution providers, you face the daunting challenge of improving the quality of services you provide to customers while addressing changing markets, increasing technical complexity, cost pressures, and competition. But with a well-defined strategy and targeted goals for fine-tuning CX, you’re likely to gain better results much faster.


diana

Diana L. Mirakaj is president and chief operating officer of The 2112 Group. You can follow her on Twitter at @dlenam.

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