Businesses must meet and surpass rising expectations for IT to turn customers into advocates, according to Janine Modaro, Telstra director of integrated service management, network applications and services.
"Advocacy is that step beyond satisfaction," Modaro told the itSMF LEADit conference in Canberra. "If I'm an advocate, I'm actually going to go out and tell someone about the great service experience that I had. I'm going to recommend services to my friends, my family [and] my social networks."
"It's the advocates that are actually going to make our businesses succeed and make our businesses grow."
However, that can be challenging with customer expectations for technology increasing every day, Modaro said. Customers used to be more forgiving with businesses about how and when they received support for problems, she said. Now, customers want to interact with businesses on any device at any time and get an immediate answer, she said.
"As service management professionals, we have the challenge of responding to those high expectations. We've got to respond to the ones we know about today and also the ones that are going to come with the next big technological innovation."
Modaro drew a pyramid of customer needs based on Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs" for human beings. From the base of the pyramid to the summit, those needs are reliability, responsiveness, relevance, visibility and innovation, she said.
Reliability is "fundamental like food and water," Modaro said. "The way it feels to customers is [that] things just work and they work day in and day out."
Apple successfully differentiated itself from a blue-screen prone Windows by priotising reliability over an open technology ecosystem, she said.
Responsiveness is about providing timely answers and results, Modaro said. Businesses can harness cloud computing to provide instant provisioning of capacity, she said. To truly wow customers and provide a seamless experience, businesses can use predictive analytics to add capacity before anything goes wrong, she said.
Relevance places an emphasis on the impact of any problem to customers, Modaro said. She read an SMS by Telstra some time ago as a poor example of this. The message said, "Up to 47 IP-manned services in the Tullamarine area of Melburne, Victoria, may be experiencing loss of data services due to POP switch unreachable."
Modaro said that message might be relevant to the specific workers who need to resolve the switching issue, "but it's actually not giving us the information about the impact that this may be having on our customers. It doesn't tell us who's affected by this; it doesn't tell us what aspect of their business is actually now in distress because of this."
A good way to ensure relevance is to provide rewards inside the business when a customer is satisfied, Modaro said.
Such an approach was employed when Modaro was a general manager at Commonwealth Bank, she said. "Their business goal was to become number one in customer satisfaction. There were incentives for all the teams and all the service provider groups in that ecosystems to help them achieve that goal."
Visibility means giving customers access anywhere, she said. "We want to let our customers engage with us, wherever they are."
"If you really want to wow your customers on visibility and access, then there's no better way than to give them visibility of your service information in their systems."
Finally, innovation is at the pinnacle of the customer needs pyramid, Modaro said. "Innovation often comes from challenging the status quo."
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