One of the major focuses for businesses at the moment may be what they can do to bring in new customers to their brand and ensure their existing users remain loyal.
Attracting new customers – and retaining existing ones – is key
The organisations quizzed 175 senior personnel from some of the world’s largest firms for its 2012 Board of Directors Survey, asking them to select from a list of 30 business goals to identify what was most important to them.
The top five results were:
1. Attracting new customers
2. Retaining and enhancing existing customers
3. Focusing on core competencies
4. Maintaining competitive advantage
5. Fostering innovation
It is clear from the results of the survey that providing a good customer experience and keeping customers happy is a priority for many companies.
But how can you do this quickly and cost-effectively?
One way may be to invest in new IT solutions that can manage a firm’s customer relations and performance, which was highlighted by Gartner as a key strategy for firms.
The survey revealed half of companies are willing to spend on IT solutions as a way to boost their competitiveness, with IT tying with sales as the highest priority for investment in 2012.
Jorge Lopez, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, noted the fact these outlays are being considered at the same time as many enterprises are preparing for a market recession highlights their importance.
He said: “The investments they plan to make are essential to growth and even survival,” adding it underlines the fact “they are willing to throw the investment gauntlet down now, rather than later”.
Gartner also noted that as advances in technology continue to gain ground, IT-enabled business models will be useful to improve financial performance and boost productivity.
Mr Lopez added companies “should also investigate how IT can change the business model for their industry in a manner that will change the rules of competition”.
Fight for IT at board level
However, while it may be the task of the chief information officer (CIO) to determine what the IT department can do to improve customer experience and retention, it could be the case they have to fight to make their voices heard at executive level.
This is because a recent survey by Bull Information Systems found that even though 79 per cent of CIOs are on the board and 93 per cent report directly to the chief executive, they still struggle for influence on the direction of the company.
It found fewer than ten per cent said they have the freedom to set their own agenda in their current job, despite 69 per cent believing IT is a key driver for innovation in their business.
If you’re not listening to what your IT department is telling you about how you can improve your business, you could be missing out on the latest technological innovations.