Closing the cultural and skills gaps in digital customer experiences

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Technology jobs have always tended to be straightforward roles — heads down, designing, building, troubleshooting, more troubleshooting, and staying on top of new technology announcements. Oh, and more troubleshooting. But the time has come to turn as much as possible to automation and cloud providers, and reconsider the roles of technologists and technology leaders. 

It’s time to open them up as more strategic advocates for business transformation. The business recognizes that this is needed. It’s a matter of adapting the corporate culture, and finding or developing the skills that can move things forward.

This was all triggered by the rush to digital that commenced in the spring of 2020, which turned tech professionals almost overnight into customer experience advocates. 

“Within the last two years, technology professionals have evolved their skillsets to deliver resilient, transformative customer experiences,” observed Chris Rittler, vice president of CX product management for Cisco. “Working closely together, technology teams have implemented efficient processes to reimagine how they create, capture, and prioritize customer experiences to keep pace as business priorities shift.”   

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The expanded roles of tech professionals are necessary as organizations rely on digital customer experience for their bread and butter. “Technology professionals are now accountable for bringing personalization and automation into customer experience solutions,” said Venu Gooty, senior vice president of digital strategy and transformation at HGS. 

The key is building the strongest bonds possible between technology and business. “When tech professionals can share their data with marketing, sales, and other customer-facing departments, it’s easier to specify the changes and developments required to support a better customer experience,” said Sharad Varshney, CEO of OvalEdge.

CX and user experience (UX) design approaches — such as low-code, no-code tools, prototyping, and wireframing tools — “enable business analysts and business owners to demand better consumer experiences from technology teams, which in turn helps technology teams, such as developers, to better appreciate and understand the need for improved CX,” Gooty said.

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This extends to hiring patterns — a need to “combine, develop, and hire talent according to their needs to meet demands for customer experience skills,” Rittler said. “Skills are foundational to the success of digital transformation, as they account for nearly 40% of a successful transformation investment.” 

As with many things, this change in focus requires a change in culture. “Executing effective customer experience strategies is about more than just the technology you implement; it is about investing in a culture that prioritizes building resilient, adaptive, and transformative technologies,” said Rittler. “To grow, those who work in the technology industry should engage in digital learning platforms to help today’s learners become tomorrow’s experts.” 

Another headwind is the fact that, “There is still an ‘old guard’ in the business and tech worlds that stands in the way of progress, that views technology as the backend,” Varshney said. “This is a stumbling block, but it shouldn’t be.” Instead, tech and business leaders need to have equal status within enterprises. 

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As part of cultural change, there’s a continuing “segregation between business teams and tech teams,” Gooty said. “Different geographies, different departments, or differing reporting structure — [this separation] is still an impediment for delivering excellent customer experiences. Redesigned team structures are needed to succeed — this requires a combination of technologists, business owners, experience designers, testing experts, and project managers to work closely together.”

Ultimately, it comes down to empowering business users with technology as much as tech professionals themselves. “When an organization presents a united front committed to developing a better, technology-driven customer experience through tools and training, tech teams can hone in and implement these measures,” Varshney said. “In the end, transparent, accessible governance in an organization can support collaboration between different groups, and data governance tools can be used to directly impact user experience.”

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