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"Customer First", Are We Missing On This In Our Digital Delivery

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Asish T Karunakaran, CIO, Vidal Health

As Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Vidal Health Group, Asish T Karunakaran heads all technology functions which comprise - Software Development, IT Projects, IT Operations, IT Infrastructure and BI with a span of control of around 120 Engineers. He undertook multiple customer experience initiatives which enabled Vidal Health to improve CSAT and cost optimization.

Recently I was going through a website of a large Global Auto Manufacturer to contact their nearest showroom as I was keen to purchase one of their models. There were almost half dozens of dealers in Bangalore and to my surprise none of the phone numbers mentioned on the website was valid. This incident looks silly for a CIO and would blame it to some X department for keeping the content updated. When we all talk about digital disruptions, connected mobility and AI-driven diagnostic etc. are we missing on the customer angle? In this case, as a prospective customer, I have my basic need to call the nearest dealer and the organization is denying that need. In such a scenario should the customer care about the technical advancements the vehicle has to offer when they failed on basics? These are all not one of the incidents, when we look at customer touchpoints of majority matured organizations, I found them missing on providing an unfussy digital delivery.

Organizations miss out on understanding the basic customer priorities and their needs. It’s easy to skip this step to showcase the technological advancements which many times customer doesn’t care about or don’t address their needs. Let’s take the case of disruption created by the digital wallets; there was no room to play by the FinTech companies if the commercial banks were pro-active in addressing the fundamental needs of the customer, i.e., an easy payment platform for his peers and merchants. All the technologies used by the wallet providers were present for quite some

time and our commercial banks failed in picking and delivering the same despite they were having a huge technology budget and highly competent technical team. This lack of vision allowed the FinTech players to flourish eats away their market. This issue is confined not only with the Indian market, but it is across the Globe. If we look into customer touchpoints matured organization the situation is more less same barring few exceptions, but at the same, I am very happy to see a massive transformation across the service industry an increased focus on customer experience due to the disruptions created by start-ups but it’s still less than the desired level.

CIOs when they invest to improve digital delivery platforms must be very clear about how this improvement generates value. It could be a direct value to the customer, or it could be an operational efficiency for the organization; but when we are focusing on operational efficiency, we should not miss the impact on customer experience and corresponding consequences. To construct this value proposition, we should think about the solution wearing multiple hats especially from a customer who is not digital-savvy. One of the key success parameters of a digital delivery platform lies in its faster adaptation and the corresponding changes in customer perception. So an agile and flexible environment to meet with the customer demand quicker is a necessary condition for the successful digital journey.

Organizations miss out on understanding the basic customer priorities and their needs


Every customer feels they are important, and they always look forward to the personalized experience but when focusing more and more on digital platforms, the human angle is missing in those customer touchpoints and accordingly the personalized delivery. This also leads to a transaction-oriented relationship with the customer and misses the customer connect in turn organization misses that customer loyalty. There is enough technical maturity when it comes getting a 360-degree view of the customer but unfortunately the same is being used only for selling more rather than providing better service experience which customer desires to have. The tech team should always focus on creating maximum value to the customer and organization rather than focusing on technical excellence. Let's take the example of WhatsApp for business, it’s not a technically superior solution in CTO perspective, but for a customer as well as the sales team it’s an amazing way to get the service delivered in a seamless way.

I am not here to promote any technology but want to pass on a message that customer needs are very simple and basic and let’s deliver the same in a less complex and efficient way making sure that its adding value to him. Adaption of smartphones, growing to compute power smartphones possess, increasing affordability of IoT, availability of excellent compute capacity and platforms for AI and machine learning etc. are giving CIOs the capability to build some outstanding digital platforms and us as CIOs has the responsibility to encapsulate the complex engineering from the customer. The digital experience needs to be unfussy, efficient and idiot-proof.

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