Why CIOs are more vital to customer success than ever

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CIOs have a fluid and dynamic role in today’s tech-driven enterprises. Whereas they were once solely focused on their companies’ technology infrastructure, the data-driven and technological nature of today’s business world is pushing the CIO into the limelight.

Instead of simply focusing on internal stakeholders, they must now also pay attention to the tech ecosystems their companies build to ensure they are not just operational, but also seamless.

This new hybrid role also means that for the modern CIO, back-end technology becomes another piece of a larger puzzle—creating a more successful user experience, both internal and external. While in the past consumer-facing solutions were the purview of sales and front-end developers, the increasing degree of interconnectivity means CIOs now need a place in the customer experience conversation.

Rethinking How Customer Success Is Accomplished

More than ever before, companies are driven by their success in constructing powerful customer experiences (CX). With consumers being more empowered thanks to technology, social media, and the ease with which they can uncover information, customer success has become more than simply a marketing challenge. Thanks to the emergence of big data and customer analytics, customer success (CS) has been transformed into a much more proactive field. This new reality means that companies must not only rethink how they approach CS, but also the technological background and infrastructure surrounding it.

Consumers have shown that even though they may love a brand, they’re no longer willing to put up with slow service, poor experiences, and faulty technology. Moreover, while companies talk a big game about improving their CX and adapting to new developments, many don’t have a real strategy in place or even point person to handle this activity.

As technology becomes a more crucial component for driving the overall CX, ignoring those who are most familiar with the potential and limitations of a company’s tech—the CIO—can lead to communication breakdowns. Indeed, CX and customer success are increasingly linked to successful engagement with technology. Instead of planning backwards—creating strategies and later focusing on technology—companies should rearrange their priorities by building technology systems that are designed to improve customer success.

CIOs Need a Seat at The Table

With that in mind, there are few people as vital to CS as the CIO who have the best bird’s-eye view of its technological capabilities. The current paradigm for CS stresses adaptation based on customer feedback, but that philosophy ignores a major issue. Companies rarely have a second chance to earn consumer trust once they’ve lost it. Adding patchwork solutions to existing issues in CX and CS may improve the experience for incoming customers, but it won’t stop existing consumers from leaving.

CIOs have an advantage of knowing what it takes to build systems that not only function well but also foster greater adoption. Instead of piecemeal upgrades and fixes, they are familiar enough with companies’ technology to construct systems from scratch. More importantly, they can bridge the gap between internal and external stakeholders’ needs.

Additionally, it is evident that companies must constantly add new technologies to keep up with changing consumer preferences. Everything from chatbots to analytics and AI tools can greatly improve your CX and CS. Even so, incorrectly applying these tools, or failing to integrate them properly, can do more harm than good. When companies rush to incorporate these tools for their own sake, they can miss the forest for the trees, losing sight of the bigger picture and stoking adoption issues that result in consumer exodus.

There are plenty of examples of “upgrades” gone wrong. Users trying to make appointments with a chatbot only to realize their reservations were never made; bank transactions that must eventually be made in person due to malfunctioning apps; and more. In these cases, including the CIO can mitigate the failure factors and provide a better path toward integration, accessibility, and eventual embrace.

Executives’ understanding of their companies’ IT realities, opportunities, and limitations is invaluable for proper planning and eventual customer success.  Perhaps most crucially, CIOs understand what is needed to carry out the digital transformations that push greater CS while assuring that new systems swim rather than sink. Instead of needlessly throwing money at a problem (by hiring more personnel, or investing in more failed technologies, for instance) CIOs can re-target and refocus efforts by concentrating on adoption and transformation.

Breeding Success Through Adoption and Value

While high-tech is the prevailing trend in CX, it can fail more easily than it can succeed. New transformation efforts require adoption and must clearly exhibit value. For CIOs, this is not a problem but a part of life. By incorporating their valuable viewpoints in the CS conversation, companies open the door for CIOs to use the best tools at their disposal to drive adoption. This ensures that no matter how consumers interact with a company and its products or services, they’ll always have a very satisfying experience.

About the Author
Adi Janowitz is the RVP of Customer Success EMEA at WalkMe, the Digital Adoption Platform (DAP).
In the last 10 years, Adi has been a visionary pioneer of digital-centric strategies for leading enterprises. A technology fluent professional with customer experience embedded in her DNA, Adi leads on the frontlines of digital transformation.”