Bringing business and IT together has been the dream of analysts, speakers, technologists, and business leaders for decades. Has the Covid situation finally forced you to adjust things?
Notice the growing focus on customer experience (CX) among technology staff. This shifts the priority from caring and serving back-end systems to caring and serving the actual customer. Not all organizations are quite there, and many tech professionals feel disconnected from the ultimate delivery of products and services to consumers. Nevertheless, the world of technology is changing, demanding new ways of thinking and working, including greater collaboration and greater empathy.
Fortunately, most technology professionals and managers won’t need a significant skill update to meet these new priorities, according to Michael Wallace, senior manager or solution architecture at Amazon Web Services. Wallace, who shared his observations about the new tech workplace, cites the past two years as a big sea change.
“The pandemic has shown that our IT group can improve the customer experience without having to learn new skills,” says Wallace. For example, a contact center IT professional said, “Ask yourself how do we move beyond a monolithic structure to something that is fast, adaptive, programmatic, and easily managed by developers? They want the ability to quickly integrate services functionally using commonly understood programming languages without having to spin up additional infrastructure.”
The Covid crisis, for all its tragedy and turmoil, has brought together people who previously existed within their respective silos and often disagreed. “The pandemic and subsequent work-from-home model have acted as a powerful force for IT-centric and business-centric teams to come together and become more resilient to changing market and global conditions.” “Before the pandemic, the customer experience CX team was de-prioritized because the IT team had competing priorities. It resulted in a shadow IT project that didn’t get full buy-in or support, so it wasn’t implemented well.”
Of course, there are still headwinds that stand in the way of such cooperative nirvana. Wallace gives the following recommendations for achieving better consistency:
- Identify existing inertia in company culture: “From a corporate culture standpoint, many large organizations have invested heavily in technology platforms and the skills needed to drive those platforms,” says Wallace. “Changing these tech stacks is scary, so customer experience teams are forced to maintain the status quo instead of improving the customer experience: ‘This is good enough.’”
- Identify areas where technicians need more involvement. “The most common problem is not knowing what you need or where to start. For example, your organization may have a lot of data, but you may not know how best to analyze it explains Wallace. “An IT professional has both worked well and stayed up late in relation to his current tech stack, and how he can leverage AI and machine learning to overcome this challenge. We need to think deeply.”
- Adopt Design Thinking: “The best thing a technology professional can do is think about good customer service interactions that can be leveraged for future CX designs,” says Wallace. “Perhaps the access to technology for our agents has given us a great experience. It integrates into our back-end systems, collects meaningful data, and leverages machine learning to get agent information faster. Everything we do is an important part of understanding and serving our customers better.”
- Look out for new technologies such as AI and machine learning:”For example, in a contact center setting, improving the agent experience is essential to improving the customer experience. In the past, it was common for disparate backend systems to try to work together. This can be cumbersome and agent-intensive, increasing costs and compromising the customer experience. By leveraging technologies like machine learning, we can give agents access to the information they need to help customers quickly and accurately, ultimately improving the experience for both agents and customers.
When technology and business priorities are indistinguishable, we may end up seeing a statement. Until then, keep an eye on how CX is handled and who makes it happen.