Targeting, attracting, and retaining new customers will remain a top priority for CIOs in 2008, according to a worldwide survey of 1,500 CIOs by Gartner Executive Programs.

 

Gartner advises companies to focus their efforts on projects that are doable and critical, while keeping the broader business objective as a future project. The seven fundamental initiatives to help companies improve customer experience are:

 

Act on feedback, deploy changes and communicate actions to employees and customers. Companies that fail to act on these actions in response to customers’ feedback are throwing away the chance to increase the number of satisfied and loyal customers.

 

Design processes from the outside in. Most process redesign is done with the objective of improving operational efficiencies rather than to improve the customer experience: an inside-out approach.

 

Act as one organization to ensure consistency. The customer may interact with many parties as part of his or her business with a company. The challenge for the company is to ensure that information gleaned at one interaction is not forgotten in the next channel.

 

Be open. Organizations that want to improve the customer experience often become more open. Being more open may just mean opening up more channels or opening hours, but it can mean much more.

 

Personalize products and experiences. Some personalization options are simple, while others are more complex. However, customization creates costs for the company.

 

Alter attitudes and employee behavior. Employees' actions are often the most powerful improvements in a customer's experience.

 

Design the complete customer experience. Companies with a focus on selling experiences focus on designing experiences. The brand is an expression of a product or company’s reputation built up over many years.

 

For more information on this and other research, visit www.gartner.com.

 

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