Analyst firm Forrester claims that customer experience is the greatest untapped source of profits in business today, and that projects commissioned to target this are putting pressure on technology departments.

Harley Manning, co-author of ‘Outside In: The Power of Putting your Customers at the Centre of your Business’, told Computerworld UK that companies need to rethink how they approach customer experience.

“If you look at customer experience from the perspective of what it can do to decrease your costs, what it can do to increase your revenue, and then look at the return on investment from doing those kind of projects, then the discussion of customer experience happens on a very different level and you realise that is probably the greatest untapped source of profits in business today,” said Manning.

“If you set out to be the best in the world at marketing you would struggle because it is a mature discipline and well understood. However, if you said you are going to focus on providing a better customer experience than your competitors, suddenly you are competing in a different arena.”

Manning said that it is hard to assess your systems internally to understand what impact they are having on the customer’s experience, and as a result the technology department should take an ‘outwards-in’ perspective, whereby it assesses every point at which the customer interacts with the business.

“Take each of those touches that the customer has with your company. Perhaps in a retail location, over the phone, on a website, on a mobile app – looking at whether the underlying people, processes, policies and technologies that contributed to the experience that the customer had at each of those points makes you quickly realise that you have an opportunity to do very specific things with technology to improve that experience," he said. 

Bill Band, principal analyst for Application Development & Delivery at Forrester, agreed with Manning and said that companies are beginning to waken up to the benefits of making customer experience a priority, which is placing pressure on IT departments.

“Improving customer experience is putting new demands on technology departments. In particular, one thing that I have noticed is that the projects that get backing tend to cluster around digital interactions with customers because in this day and age a lot of these revolve around mobile or web.

"As a result, a lot more technology-heavy projects are being commissioned around these customer experiences,” said Band.

“Also, the role of technology employees inside these organisations is changing as companies start to focus more on the customer experience. Technology employees have to become more strategic,” he added.

“There is more of a spotlight being placed on the IT organisation to help execute business strategy. So it’s no longer about maintenance and support, these people are now important strategic assets. A lot of them are moving out of pure IT roles into business technology roles and are moving closer to marketing/sales business units.”

The book will be published on 28 August and includes more than 80 case studies from across 15 industries in 16 countries, including examples from Boeing, E.ON Energy, FedEx, T-Mobile and Virgin Media.