Allies, not enemies: How IT and business teams can build a better CX, together
In an increasingly unforgiving business landscape, customer experience (cx) is key to attracting and retaining customers—but a great cx doesn’t magically materialize.
Someone needs to get that project on the roadmap, secure budget and buy-in, and work with IT to get a solution built, and that typically falls on business leaders’ shoulders. Once a project is approved, 6-12 months could pass before IT is ready to build a solution, and another 9-12 months could pass before the solution is ready to roll out.
Given this slow-paced approval and build cycle, no one can blame you for going around IT to try to cobble together your own solutions. However, without a technology that supports this approach, there will be consequences. When business leaders usurp IT, they:
- Burden IT: When business teams hack together disparate solutions, IT is forced to support and troubleshoot those “solutions” later down the line.
- Erode Trust: When you go around IT, no one gets what they want or need at the end of the day—including your customers.
- Delay Projects Further: When IT’s growing list of responsibilities proliferates, they have even less time to service business needs.
- Hurt Customer Experience: Makeshift, business-built solutions often don’t work the way they should, leaving IT frustrated and your customers more dazed than dazzled.
To get the right customer-centric solutions built faster and with fewer resources, you must eliminate this friction and find a better way forward. Read on to learn how.
Collaborate and communicate
IT is notorious for taking a set of requirements and just going off and building something, but IT and business leaders must break free from this old, top-down model. Collaboration is key.
Oftentimes, CTOs and CIOs think they understand what the business needs. They go off and build a solution or scope out new vendors to expand their tech stack’s capabilities, and then wait for feedback. In the process, key requirements can get missed. Rather than simply handing over your requirements and waiting for results, work with IT to clearly communicate what your solution needs.
If the problem requires subject matter expertise outside of IT, then pull those SMEs into the conversation to get to the heart of the problem and empower IT to build a better solution. When you involve the right SMEs, IT will do less legwork on areas that aren’t their expertise. As a result, you get your desired solution built faster, IT reduces their workload, and trust between business units grows.
CTOs and CIOs don’t want their most expensive IT resources sitting in requirements meetings, so find a way for key stakeholders to contribute in a more meaningful way—even if that means building parts of the solution yourself with the assistance of technology.
Collaboration is equally important during the early stages of the build cycle. As magical as IT may seem, no one achieves perfection on the first try. When building a better cx, it’s important for IT to spend as little time as possible on the first iteration, so they can get input faster. Having said that, IT may not be comfortable sharing their rough draft of a process at first, so be sure to get buy-in and set realistic expectations from the get-go.
If IT doesn’t feel empowered to share a prototype early on, then they’ll spend months building a solution that may need significant changes. Additionally, if IT asks you to provide feedback on their solution a month before launch, your feedback will be more superficial than directional, and the end solution will suffer.
If you don’t work with IT to test, iterate, prototype, and communicate what internal teams and customers want, then no one gets what they need at the end of the day—including your customers.
Build from the outside in
If business leaders and IT teams build something that only meets their needs, they end up missing the most important contingent: the customer. While cross-departmental collaboration is key, you must also consider your customers.
When you build from the inside out, you make compromises when you finally get to the experience level because it must meet your own internal needs first, and that’s not the point. If you start with the needs of the end user in mind, you can touch on all the important points, and IT can ensure the solution meets their security and architecture requirements too.
To build a better cx, build from the outside in. That starts by engaging end users directly, whether that’s the voice of your customers or staff.
It’s important for IT and business teams to collaborate on a solution, but it’s equally important for the people who know all the quirks of a process to be involved. Ensure that customers and frontline staff have a voice, first and foremost. If you’re incorporating that insight, your customer experience will naturally be better. Otherwise, IT will spend nine months building a solution that ticks all the internal boxes and doesn’t work for frontline staff or customers. This further frustrates and demotivates IT, eats up valuable resources, and leaves your organization no better off than where it started.
Solve your own problems
Typically, IT is set up to support bigger issues, but not every issue justifies a dedicated team of developers.
Business teams often come to IT with a series of smaller issues that get ignored because IT can’t justify pulling resources off of core projects to solve all the little things. So they push these smaller problems to the bottom of their list. However, each of these smaller problems can have a huge cumulative impact, so it’s important to get them solved quickly.
With the right solution and approach, you can successfully solve these issues yourself, without contributing to shadow IT, hurting the customer experience, or waiting for IT to get to your problem. To achieve this goal, find technology that empowers non-technical business users to contribute directly to the project, in a way that allows IT to remain in control.
Most business and IT teams don’t realize that many problems can be solved without writing code, or by limiting the code that needs to be written.
When IT has the power to determine which projects justify their most talented developers and which problems can be solved by business teams and frontline staff, issues get solved faster and IT is free to keep their top talent for core projects.
To avoid future headaches and friction between departments, ensure that you adopt a solution that allows IT to retain central control and governance over the data flow and integrations. Additionally, look for a technology that enables IT to create guardrails to help business teams solve their own problems, without burdening IT now or in the future.
The final verdict
To reduce friction and build a better cx, you must think differently. That starts by questioning the old model and finding ways to solve your own problems without always having to run to IT. While we may never see business and IT leaders frolicking in a dewy meadow hand-in-hand, you can become closer allies in the name of one shared goal: building a better cx faster and with less effort.