Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Look At How Hardware Ultimately Influences Your Customer Experience

To make a business perform better we need to employ technology. There are a number of issues to consider as we develop a business that is based on high-end technology at one end, and people and customers on the other. It might sound a little strange, but the technology you employ, from the dedicated servers you use, through to the software your staff works with, will influence your customer experience. Essentially you need to understand each level of your technology, how that will influence your people, and ultimately influence the way your business interacts with your customers. Each segment of your setup, needs to be compatible with the next. Business Process Management incorporates all of these issues. Here we look at some of the issues and how it is being dealt with.

·         Getting the Right Hardware Vs Business Software. We can look at dedicated hosting as the very tech end of your business. The reason why this is important is actually very straight forward. The way your hardware is set up, will influence the software packages you use. Having the best technology that can handle the complete business software packages for your people is important. Obviously, this is a very specialized field, and those who best understand your business goals, can actually provide the best hardware foundation for your intended business and business software packages.

·         Business Software Vs Customer Needs. Business software should be flexible to suit your business processes while working well on your hardware. At the same time, your people will need to be able to use it, especially when they are dealing with your customers. Here is a perfect example of where software and systems are not truly compatible to match a client’s needs: I recently called the bank to get a copy of my bank statement with my full name included because when I receive my statement it only includes the initial of my first name, and my last name. The problem was the support operator on the phone has no solution on her terminal to deal with this request. In the end, after consulting her supervisor, my full name was included in the address field on my statement. It never arrived. I had to call again and have this change made while I was in a bank location, and as I had the phone to my ear, I had a bank teller standing in front of me print out my statement. The bank teller could not change the details, and the bank phone support could not deliver my statement if they tried to send it after changing the address field to include my full name – there was no other way to include my full name on the statement. This is a simple example, and yet it clearly highlights many issues and problems you will face when mixing people, customer, business and technology together.

·         Matching Technology With People. Just having technology is not enough. Analysis of your business with a focus on people and customers has become essential. Although managing technology is a necessity, management of that to align those IT services with the needs of the business has become a priority. Matching technology with a focus on business processes and customer needs has grown out of this gap between technology systems and people. IT service management based upon what is known as ITIL (IT Information Libraries), are integrated processes based on a set of best practices to manage your technology to meet the unique customer requirements and priorities. ITIL defines, and documents those best practices, while ITSM uses them. Employing these strategies is normally a constant task of how to better integrate your technology and customer experience. This approach is a major paradigm shift that has grown out of the maturity of technology and the need to integrate it with real customer solutions.

As we can see from this breakdown, a holistic approach to your technology and people is possible. We are already in a business world where we will consider all of these issues at the same time. You cannot employ technology and expect it to perform if you are not looking at your ultimate goal of providing a seamless customer experience. Professionals in each of the areas above should have understanding of each other.

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