How IT Support Impacts the Customer Experience

A better IT experience for your end users can mean a better brand experience for your customers. Here’s how.

Deliver a better experience
Market leaders from Apple® to Zappos® are using technology to deliver a better experience to consumers. As they do, the expectations of those consumers are rising. Shoppers expect always-on access to the brands they love, across touch points from mobile apps to websites to customer-support centers.

Of course, the same people who are brand consumers at home are end users at work. And as consumer requirements ratchet upward, so do end-user demands. IT departments have to respond by delivering more consistent and easily consumable devices, applications and support.

Now, organizations are discovering the influence works both ways. Just as expanding customer expectations are driving a better IT experience for your end users, escalating end-user demands can result in a better brand experience for your external customers.

Raising the Bar

Talk to CIOs, and they’ll admit that end users are in the driver’s seat. Largely this is the result of the consumerization of IT. The good news is that the trend has had a primarily favorable effect on the enterprise. Well over two-thirds of companies say the impact has been positive, with less than 10 percent saying it has been negative.1

One impact has been an increasingly consumer-like enterprise-IT experience. “IT departments are innovating to improve end-user satisfaction and productivity,” says Ken Jackowitz, senior vice president of Service Experience Management for CompuCom.

For example, Jackowitz says, a growing number of organizations are implementing IT walk-up service centers. These on-campus, in-person facilities allow employees to stop by and get real-time, face-to-face “how-to” help and break-fix support. A global pharmaceutical company that deployed CompuCom’s Solution Café® walk-up service centers drove down support costs by 25 percent. It also increased end user satisfaction with IT support by 10 percent — a huge shift for a function employees don’t typically feel passionate about.

Loyalty Clock
Innovations like these can enable companies to apply lessons learned in IT to serving customers externally, Jackowitz believes. “The customer experience is about more than just answering the phone quickly and being friendly,” he says. “For example, rather than solving problems quickly and calling that a good customer experience, you should identify ways to help customers avoid problems in the first place.”

For IT, that might mean using analytics to recognize a recurring equipment problem, and then identifying the root cause to actually eliminate the issue for end users. For the equipment manufacturer, that might mean using a similar process to achieve the same outcome for customers.

Customer Experience: Three Levels of Loyalty

Delivering a superior experience pays off in three aspects of customer loyalty to your brand:5

  • Retention Loyalty — The customer keeps doing business with you.
  • Enrichment Loyalty — The customer buys additional products from you.
  • Advocacy Loyalty — The customer recommends you to others.

Experience with a Smile

Still, Jackowitz emphasizes, traditional customer service is an important component of the overall experience — for both end users and customers. And it’s yet another aspect of the customer experience where superior IT support can pay dividends.

Although sales and service may make up only a small portion of your workforce, many of your employees engage with the customer in some way, either directly or indirectly. Yet there remains a disconnect between customer and employee satisfaction. While 81 percent of companies measure customer experience, only 31 percent measure employee experience.3

Companies that measure customer experience

“The majority of your workforce has an impact on customer experience,” Jackowitz points out. “Their satisfaction levels — and the way they perform as a result — reflect on your brand.”

By raising end-user satisfaction and productivity, IT can directly improve the experience your company delivers to customers. Results can include better customer retention, opportunities for cross-selling and upselling, and even the possibility that customers will become brand advocates.

“Companies often approach customer service from a cost perspective,” Jackowitz says. That’s true whether it’s IT serving end users or the customer-service function helping customers in the call center. The goal is often to become more efficient by handling more calls per hour, for example.

The more effective approach is to focus on improving outcomes. “Rather than handling customer-service calls faster, what if you could avoid the need for them altogether?” Jackowitz asks. That might mean innovating a buying process that requires less support. It might mean providing self-service tools to let customers meet their own needs or adding a chat component, which is far more efficient then a single threaded phone call.

“When you do that, you often end up reducing costs in the process,” Jackowitz says. “But if you start by focusing on outcomes, you’ll also realize the benefits of delivering a better customer experience.”

1,2 “2015 State of End-User Computing,” InformationWeek, December 2014
3,4 “The Disconnect Between Customer and Employee Experience,” IDC, June 2015
5 “What Drives a Profitable Customer Experience,” Forrester, June 2014

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