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What Hemingway would say to the CIO on Customer Engagement

by Michael Maoz  |  April 23, 2014  |  3 Comments

The IT street beat has been a-drum with talk of data. During client enquiry it is a good habit to ask the folks on the call what their job titles are, though I eschew one for myself. Here is a list of the titles that I have not expected to creep into the conversation:

VP, Matching
Principal Scientist
Chief Analytics Officer
VP Decision Management
Chief Analytics Officer
Senior Analytical Lead
Global Subject Matter Expert
VP Analytics
VP Decision Technologies
VP, Data & Insight
Chief Data Scientist
Manager of Data Insight

These are in addition to the usual roles that have been around forever, such as VP Customer Support, Care, VP Operations, Customer Experience. What is remarkable about all of these new folks is how little contact they have with the actual end-customer as the customer speaks to a support agent, or walks through the store, or uses the mobile device, or interacts with the website or partners. Rather, they sit and analyze from afar. How do they, in fact, learn to really listen to the customer. Still stuck on my Hemingway flow, he wrote in Across the River and Into the Trees  that “When people talk, listen completely. Don’t be thinking what you’re going to say. Most people never listen. Nor do they observe. You should be able to go into a room and when you come out know everything that you saw there and not only that. If that room gave you any feeling you should know exactly what it was that gave you that feeling.”

Try to move outside of your role as an IT person, or BI, or Data Scientist, or CIO, for a moment, and put yourself in your civilian clothes talking to your bank, or consider the products, services, offers, or treatment that you have received in a clinic, or a retail store, or car dealer, at a government office or a university. Does it feel like they have been ‘listening’ to you across the years as your needs have changed and your income gone up or down or family situation evolved? If you are anything like the author, the answer is, ‘no.’ A resonding ‘no.’

So a suggestion: as you apply all of these new and brilliant data scientists to the job of improving the business, think about how they are helping you to become more intentional in your interactions and engagements with customers. Do you know not only what they want this moment, but what you could and should know about them and their wants/needs that you actually don’t? And what additional information and business rules are required to assist the customer or your employees?

Get your data folks across the IT river and into the customer trees – get to where you treat your customers as you would hope to be treated AS a customer.

By the way, I will be in London at our Gartner Customer Strategies and Technologies Summit with over 15 of my colleagues discussing these exact topics. I hope you will brave the Tube strike and come meet us! Here is our hashtag – #gartnerCRM

Hope to see you there!

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Michael Maoz
VP Distinguished Analyst
13 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Michael Maoz is a research vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner Research. His research focuses on CRM and customer-centric Web strategies. Mr. Maoz is the research leader for both the customer service and support strategies area and customer-centric Web… Read Full Bio

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