Many organizations talk about enhancing or improving the customer experience – whether that is less wait time on the phone, instant chat or even offering customer support via Facebook or You Tube. As a reply to this post, describe and discuss the role of IT in improving and enhancing the customer experience. Include any experience you have encountered either as a customer or within your organization.
I think the role of IT in the customer experience is two fold - one is meeting customer expectations, and the other is making it easier for customers to do business or to accomplish what they want, how they want. As I've previously mentioned I work at a financial services firm, and I was in a direct customer facing role for 3 years so I have a lot of experience with how IT impacts the customer experience.
Expectations are really important, and work in two ways. The first is customers have certain expectations of what technology will do - they want it to provide security, they want the information to be readily available, and they want things to be in a format that makes sense for them. There is a general expectation that things are working, if something is down they expect it to be resolved quickly, but they also expect to get an explanation for why things were down. In my experience, clients do expect there to be testing and maintenance - if things were down and we weren't sure why, clients were pretty upset. If I could tell them it was regularly scheduled maintenance, or testing, or implementing something new - and especially if there was notification on the website ahead of time - most people understood and in some cases were actually happy to know we were taking steps to make improvements or ensure security. Expectations can work to a disadvantage as well, because if primary competitors have implemented something or provided technology that our firm wasn't offering, I wouldn't hear the end of it. As expectations change, IT has the challenge of trying to keep up while ensuring everything fits together and makes sense.
Outside of keeping information secure, customers really only look at technology as a means to an end. It gives them what they want, when they want it. Our call center is open 24/7 every day of the year so they can call us any time they want, but whether a client calls in or uses the website, they want to get access to their information immediately. As changes were made to make it easier for clients to check their balance, place trades, measure account performance, do research, transfer funds, or anything else they wanted to do if some part wasn't working properly, or a particularly unusual transfer couldn't be done online, there would be a lot of complaints about it. Customers want technology to give them the ability to do exactly what they want to do, when they want to do it, and how they prefer to do it. For someone who doesn't mind, or likes calling a support line, this means that the representative they speak with should be able to pull up the requested information or complete the requested task in a timely manner. For someone who wants to use online resources, this means they want to be able to do EVERYTHING themselves, and do it all online without anything else. I've had clients get upset because they can't transfer money to an unrelated account without submitting a signed letter of authorization - even when you explain they why of security concerns, they want to do it online. Clients have gotten upset because the data doesn't update as quickly as they'd like, and I've even had clients get upset because they forgot their password and never set up an online password reset feature (for some reason we don't use email resets) so they had to call in to get assistance resetting their password.