CX: Understanding customers, a challenge for technology professionals?

A phenomenon called Conway’s law create a gap between what software professionals believe their customers are experiencing and what they are actually experiencing? With businesses relying more than ever on their IT teams to deliver great customer experience (CX), IT pros are under pressure to find ways to shake things up.

This could be their biggest challenge for the coming year.

“Conway’s law suggests that products reflect the organizational structures of the companies that make them,” said Michael Bushong, group vice president, cloud data center at Juniper Networks.

“Teams build their components, and when they need to communicate with other teams, products have interfaces. This has profound implications for user experience, but most companies don’t tie fundamentals like business structure to end-user experience. »

Customer experience, a strategic priority

IT teams have an urgent need to get closer to their customers. A to learn Rackspace’s study confirms that application-centric customer experience is one of the top strategic priorities for executives (cited by 48%), ahead of IT security, compliance and even IT strategy. At the same time, current IT activities are more focused on increasing automation efficiency (63%) and IoT and cloud-native initiatives (51%) than on IT-related technology initiatives. 44%) and customer retention (30%).

Easier said than done when executives and their IT teams understand all too well that CX needs to be at the forefront of software design and development. “The desire is there, but the main obstacles we see are a lack of knowledge and funding,” says Matt Stoyka, CEO of NewRocket. “Many technology professionals lack the knowledge and skills to design a better experience. They want to work with specialists who can help them, but budget constraints often prevent effective engagement. »

This work orientation implies the need for agile design and development. Half of the respondents in the Rackspace study say it sometimes takes weeks to reach consensus before technology changes are implemented, such as B. the provision of new applications or the start of a transformation project. Other respondents say it can take months (42%) or even a year or more (8%) to become a member.

For many tech professionals, it can be difficult to get a full picture of the customer experience their software is delivering. “In most cases, the people designing the products don’t use their own products on a daily basis, creating a disconnect between the derived customer experience and the actual end-user experience,” explains Michael Bushong. “It leaves gaps between what is wanted and what is delivered.”

Know how to listen to customers

To get closer to what customers are looking for and experiencing at their end of the software chain, business leaders and IT managers need to open up communication much further, getting managers out of their offices and IT pros out of their data centers. “Talk to clients to get a better perspective,” says Matt Stoyka. “We often make too many assumptions about the solution. Be clear about what operational and usability results you are looking for. Illustrate the gap between the current status and these results. This discrepancy must be proven both quantitatively and through customer references. »

In the end, “when difficult decisions need to be made, the most knowledgeable person in the room often wins,” says Radhakrishnan Rajagopalan, global head of technology services at LTIMindtree. “Technology professionals such as CIOs, IT managers, developers, and data stewards should understand the business side as best they can to gain perspective on how to meet business needs and challenges, and identify opportunities for improvement. It would also be a good idea for technology managers to meet directly with customers and get direct feedback to increase their knowledge of the business. This information and knowledge will help them overcome inertia. Armed with first-person customer perspectives and compelling data points about how certain customer needs are not being met can help break down resistance. »

Understanding customer experience means “following customers,” advises Michael Bushong. “The saying ‘walk a mile in my shoes’ might be the most effective way to build empathy. The problem, he continues, is that “the instrumentation of our systems makes the task difficult. While data provides more accurate inferences, understanding the data and a customer’s experience are not always the same. We need data to generate actionable insights, but we also need to spend time observing how our customers are interacting with our products, which includes our websites and documentation. When we rely solely on the data we collect, we create separation, and separation is a silent killer. In the consumer space, the most successful brands interact with their customers. In the area of ​​technology? Not really. »

There are many so-called soft skills “that will help technology professionals expand their impact on the business,” says Radhakrishnan Rajagopalan. “The most powerful skill for a technology professional is business process design. In many organizations, business processes are inefficient and fail. This slows down innovation and ultimately affects the quality of products and services. IT professionals can address this challenge by analyzing business processes and looking for opportunities for improvement. Agile methods in software development are a good example. Cross-functional teams work together in shorter sprints, using continuous and incremental feedback and retrospectives to fine-tune features to meet customer needs. Agile methods, when applied effectively, can help a company bring its products to market faster and more effectively. The best technologies and skills may not yield great results without the above considerations. »

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