Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Customer Experience

May 01, 2020 • FeaturesManagementFuture TechnologyDigital TransformationRohit AgarwalCovid-19Leadership and StrategyCustomer Satisfaction and Expectations

Technology use in service is about attaining business needs, says Rohit Agarwal. In a world impacted by Corona Virus ensuring your tech fulfils its business case will become more prominent.
While technology is the walls, ceilings and decorations of the cathedral; the foundations that the cathedral stands on are the strategy, the people and the processes of the organisation. These three decide the entire stability of the cathedral and how well it can withstand the external forces. In this article, let’s take a dive at why understanding business needs and creating the right strategy around it is the first important milestone in any technology implementation.

How the Pandemic Drove Digital Transformation in Field Service

Covid-19 hit us hard, and by us I refer to humanity, a disruption of our daily life, economies, governmental policies and the rate of medical research. What has been one common theme of being able to the contain this deadly virus if one asks? ‘Technology’ would be one prompt answer that comes to our minds. Technology has helped us detect the virus, learn how it spreads and has allowed everyone globally to communicate about it. Technological progress and prowess seem to the definite answer to our biggest threats and challenges, but then, if I may ask, why is the country with the most technological prowess hit the hardest? The strategy to use the technology to attain defined goals or mitigate disasters is what separates a successful technology implementation from an arrow shot in the dark.

Let’s take the simplest example of Video Calling. The technology allows a grandmother and her grandchild to communicate in two distant continents seamlessly but there are thousands of video calling platforms such as messenger, WhatsApp and Skype to name a few. The reason these names come to our mind over the rest is simply because the way the technology has been implemented keeping the business needs of creating a simple intuitive platform that make it simple enough for an 8-year-old to an 80-year-old to use. The value of a Video Calling platform increases with the number of users or in technical terms ‘the installed base’. Whatsapp’s strategy has been to provide the platform free of charge to users to lure them to the platform and get them hooked on. The dozen employees of Whatsapp worked relentlessly on improving the simple platform to build users rather than trying to complicate the technology leading to an evaluation in billions when it was sold to Facebook.


"The failure for new technologies isn’t innovation in product or services, rather it is a missing business model in a space where customer needs are uncertain..."


If we narrow down to the modern corporate scenario, over the last five years we have seen technology evolve faster than our minds can keep up with it. IoT, Augmented and Virtual Reality, AI has been some of the biggest differentiators for corporations. The difference between one trying to use these technologies versus one that has been able to reap benefits out of it has been understanding the business needs, prioritising it and creating a formidable strategy around it without being blinded by all the great things that the technology could achieve. According to an article on Forbes, the failure for new technologies isn’t innovation in product or services, rather it is a missing business model in a space where customer needs are uncertain.

Let’s take Augmented Reality (AR) and see how a company could use it to improve their value proposition or just try to force the technology into practise. Acme(fictitious) is a small company in existence over the past 5 years and has been providing field service as a contractor with specialisation in packaging machines. Acme’s current business strategy is to expand its service base but cannot afford to hire very experienced technicians and the CTO believes in talent farming. Acme does a technology review to identify what kind of digital tools it can implement to upgrade its customer’s experience. The technology research shows that Augmented Reality could be used as a digital tool that would help new technicians get expert advice from the office. Instead of jumping straight into purchasing expensive AR glasses and software, the CEO, a big fan of the lean start-up methodology starts looking into building a strategy to slowly implement the technology in short loops involving the technicians and have the possibility to persevere if things go well or pivot if things go haywire. 

The CTO does an audit of the knowledge management of the company to see if relevant materials are available in easily accessible form for the back-office expert and the on-field technicians to use and it appears enough to run trials. Acme promotes its most experienced technician who is about to retire to a back-office expert role to guide the other technicians on the field. They use simple video calling with their smart phones and a tripod to keep the technicians’ hands free. Based on input from the usage, the knowledge repository is enhanced, and the feedback is taken from the technicians.


"The strategy, process and people are the bridge that connects the use of new technology to the upgrade in customer experience."


After the first 3 months, the depositories of knowledge are updated sufficiently, and the processes are set in place to allow for optimal use of the back-office experts time. After analysing the results from this time, the CTO and the CEO decide to hire 3 new technicians and assigns them to the back-office expert to oversee and guide. In parallel Acme partners up with an Augmented Services Solutions company to try the usage of Augmented glasses to run experiments on how the efficiency of the system can be further improved.

Acme manages to expand its service base, not waste money on technology without proof of value and attains its business goal. The key to Acme’s success is not the mere use of technology, but the focus on understanding business needs, creating a strategy towards these and incorporating technology along the way to attain these goals. The strategy, process and people are the bridge that connects the use of new technology to the upgrade in customer experience. In the digitalisation phase today, the ability to apply incremental changes, have a strategy that is flexible and possibility to get quick feedback has become the major differentiator for businesses. To be able to jump the chasm between new technology implementation and upgrading customer experience, organisations must build a solid bridge of strategy, processes and people.


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