The Customer Experience Challenge: Four Steps IT Operations Can Take to Solve It
Of all the things IT operations people have to worry about, chief among them should be answering the ongoing question, “Are my customers happy?” In fact, it all starts and ends with the customer. If customer experience is positive then you know that app performance is good, that your apps are responsive and that customers get their questions answered when they have them. If customer experience is poor then you better start digging to find out why, and fast.
Recent studies have shown that 68 percent of users will abandon an app if it takes more than six seconds to load, and nearly half of those said they would give up if it took more than three seconds to load. Over 70 percent of consumers rank “easy to use” as a deciding factor to either use or buy an app, and 10 percent said they would abandon a brand forever if they had a security problem. The takeaway – make your customers’ experience with your business and its apps fast, simple and secure.
Clearly, the risk of losing customers due to a poor experience is higher than ever before. Customers can find an alternative solution – your competitor’s – in seconds. In the online retail world, it’s a simple click to abandon a shopping cart. For complex business applications, it may take a little longer to make a switch, but the costs aren’t what they used to be in this new “one-click world.” So what can you do to not be left in the dust?
Here are four simple steps you can take to help improve customer experience:
1. Measure and monitor your customer experience always. The old adage still rings true, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” If you don’t know what your customers are experiencing, this is a necessary and achievable first step.
With an IT analytics solution focused on end user experience, you can find out how long your apps are taking to load, how complicated your software is to use, how long users are engaged, whether they come back to your app and more. There’s also a security element – the right analytics solution can make sure your data is encrypted at all times, whether transiting the network between systems or at rest on systems.
Analytics can also support the behind-the-scenes work of your IT operations and development teams. For example, it can give visibility into end-to-end performance, from a mobile device to the backend systems. And, since crashes do happen, this visibility can give them the insight needed to quickly identify and remedy the root cause.
2. Learn to love APIs and manage them. APIs have been around for a long time. So why are they so important right now?
APIs are the building blocks of digital transformation. With APIs, you can connect employees, partners, apps and devices to data both inside and outside your organization, opening your business to new revenue opportunities.
Leveraging APIs make digital transformation faster and more efficient. But using them to deliver both a compelling and consistent customer experience requires API management.
API management can help integrate multiple customer data sources quickly, easily, and securely. This gives you a huge opportunity to provide a more rewarding customer experience and, in turn, cement customer loyalty.
IceMobile, a leading global loyalty agency focused on food retail, is a good example of API management in action. Using API management, they were able to securely connect their platform to their retailers’ real-time, transactional customer relationship management and point of sale systems and deliver instant, personalized mobile offers to their customers’ mobile devices, helping to increase shopper engagement and customer loyalty. In addition, the API management platform eliminated the need to develop and test custom software, enabling IceMobile to trim implementation time from 14 weeks to less than eight weeks.
3. Get Agile: Agile is about delivering quality software faster. It means you prioritize and deliver the functionality and experience your customers want, continuously benchmark to improve performance, and collaborate across tools, teams and time zones.
In today’s competitive business environment, you can’t afford to deliver a major release – something that could take 12 to 18 months to create – based on assumptions that may even be relevant any more once the development time ends. At the current rate of technology change, needs rapidly shift and what might have been critical functionality at the start of the development cycle, may no longer be relevant. The market moves on with or without you.
And beyond keeping your business relevant, the agile process keeps the customer involved all along the way, testing and validating assumptions regularly to ensure you deliver the solution that meets their needs and expectations. Cycle times are shorter, more directed and immediately useful.
Heartland Payment Systems uses Agile methodology and processes to help their IT operations department of 400 people respond more quickly to opportunities essential to the business. With an Agile development approach in place, they’ve been able to eliminate bottlenecks and, as a result, now deliver new services in a more predictable rhythm and with greater speed. And because new services are launched more quickly, they’ve been able to increase market share in relation to their competitors.
4. At your service: Traditional service management seems to have stalled – the legacy help desk’s single ticket approach simply was not built for today’s world. People want fast and easy access to service. They want to be able to connect with you while navigating your site or through social media, whether on their laptop or mobile device.
Customers also want their vendors to know them, to have all of their information in one place so if they make numerous contacts by various methods – phone, email, social media or live chat – they don’t need to re-introduce themselves and their problem again and again. A single customer service database goes a long way towards relieving both your customers’ and your team’s frustration. These two little boxes need to be everywhere and when a customer clicks on one all their data should be available.
CA Technologies encounters the same customer experience issues as every other business, and CA’s IT team works to improve the customer experience for their customers – CA employees. The team recently delivered a new app called NeedHelp for the iPad and the iPhone using several of CA’s own solutions. The app downloads and installs in less than a minute, and so far, employees love it. One employee said that it is like sending up a flare and then the IT people come and rescue you. What’s not to like about that?
Customer experience may be everyone’s issue, but IT operations is uniquely positioned to make a real difference. Whether using analytics to understand exactly what customers are experiencing or streamlining and personalizing service, IT is at the heart of the opportunity to grow the business through improving customer experience.