The Missing CxO
All companies announced that they were putting the customer/consumer at the center of their priorities. This is a strategic objective to win new customers (or keep the most profitable ones) and improve their brand image. The same trend exists within public organizations to offer new services to citizens, students or patients. But this customer centricity is not always reflected in actions, or not yet at the level of what the objective is.
This trend is now a few years old and yet not a week goes by without hearing about IT problems and user dissatisfaction.
Over the years, we have seen new functions blossom in the company, to follow a new trend or to really meet a regulatory need. When IT security started to become a real issue, Chief Security Officers were born, more recently with the advent of data, Chief Data Officers appeared, as data protection regulations evolved, and Data Privacy Officers joined organizations. We have even seen the emergence of Chief Happiness Officers to take care of employees! All these functions are important, there is no doubt about it.
But if organizations have been saying that they have been putting the customer/consumer at the center of their strategy for many years now, why hasn't a Chief Satisfaction Officer ever been appointed to take care of what makes the business of companies....Customers!
Customer centricity is at the heart of corporate strategies, but they don't name anyone who is responsible for it! It is strange, one might even wonder about the seriousness of these strategies if no one is in charge of the company's main objective.
As the new services are mostly digital, the IT Department, and therefore the CIO, is often the unofficial person in charge of customer satisfaction.
Since the new service that must satisfy existing customers and attract new ones is IT, IT departments should have the teams, processes and tools in place to ensure this. So why always this same litany of complaints about an application's poor availability or poor performance?
The containment of millions of employees has highlighted the shortcomings of CIOs in terms of the ability of their infrastructure to support this load.
Or all these new product launches awaited by thousands/millions of consumers who find themselves at least frustrated in front of eCommerce sites that no longer respond, while these consumers are ready to spend their money and buy this new product!
When we read the comments on social networks at that time, it is clear that customer satisfaction is not there and worse the brand image of these companies and merchant sites is very strongly degraded.
So we wonder if customer centricity is clearly at the heart of the strategies?
In the latest CISCO survey of IT departments, 84% of CIOs unfortunately admit that they are unable to ensure customer satisfaction or experience? While 86% of them do have the objective of customer centricity at the heart of their strategy!
A strange paradox that has been going on for years, but no one seems to find this situation abnormal! And there is still no Chief Satisfaction Officer!
As there is no function dedicated to monitoring user satisfaction within the IT Departments (and the company in general), this responsibility is diluted through either the development or production teams. Unfortunately, there is no "CISO" or "DPO" for satisfaction. As responsibility is shared, no one is really in charge, each department or service within the IT department will interpret in its own way what user satisfaction is, how it can be measured and monitored.
This results in most cases in different metrics for a general cacophony and users or customers who continue to be dissatisfied with services delivered or poorly delivered.
How did it come to this.
Very significant budgets have been spent over the years on testing and monitoring tools, team training, and even consulting to support the optimization process. With today's organizations and solutions in place, everyone monitors performance from the perspective of their business, the developer is happy with the functionalities covered by his development, the system engineer with the availability of his servers, the DBA with the performance of his databases, the network engineer with general connectivity, but no one sees what's going on behind the screen of the user who complains about slowness or even unavailability. No global view, no view from a user's perspective, siloed metrics, impossible communication, and long resolution times when incidents occur.
Even when we look more closely at initiatives like DevOps, we can see that we are not going all the way.
The objectives of DevOps cover the entire production chain. They include (source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DevOps):
- Improving the frequency of deployment;
- Faster time to market;
- Lower failure rate of new releases;
- Reduced time between fixes;
- Faster resource recovery time; and
Is there an objective for user satisfaction? NO!
We are talking about, less bugs and shorter resolution times, this goes in the right direction, but without going as far as clearly listing user satisfaction (availability and response time) in the objectives. This is clearly a pity and damaging.
The first step is to really put the user back at the center of the objectives of :
- Functional quality
As soon as the functionalities are validated, the IT management teams must speak the same language around user satisfaction. That is to say Availability and Response Time as seen from the user workstation. This objective must be maintained from the BUILD stages to the final RUN stages with a common language. We will no longer talk about the performance of a particular system or subsystem, but about the response time of the application as seen by the user.
Once the common metrics are defined and accepted by all teams, the next step is to put the processes in place to ensure that this goal is always in the viewfinder and that we have the tools to measure it and correct problems once the diagnostics are done. The tools to test and monitor the performance of the IT layers exist and are necessary, but they must be supported by tools that will monitor the performance as seen from the user workstation. Whether it is an employee or a consumer and regardless of its location.
Availability and performance will be measured of his workstation and in case of performance degradation the response time will be sliced by computer bricks to quickly diagnose where is the problem of unavailability or bottleneck that negatively impacts the response time.
Only in this case, we will speed up diagnostics, troubleshooting and monitoring what really matters! Because today all the lights can be green for every technical layer through which a user transaction passes and have an unsatisfied customer because the response times are too long or the application is not available.
By using tools based on the same user response time information gatherers from the development to the operational phases, we ensure smooth communication between teams and a focus on the company's objective - Customer/User Satisfaction.
Without forgetting to appoint a Customer Satisfaction Manager who will be able to put in place everything necessary to achieve this corporate objective.