No matter what sector, there is just one opportunity to guarantee a customer's support. In the last couple of weeks I've had a second spate of problems with the Audi A4 purchased just a year ago, and discussed customer touch points with CIO Ian Cohen.
Just about every CIO I meet is fully aware and enjoys the task of ensuring that the customer's experience begins on a positive note. Increasingly that first touch point is through technology and it is reassuring to meet CIOs like Cohen who make that experience a personal target.
It is vital for all of us, CIOs, Editors, engineers, check out assistants to ensure that the customer has a positive experience. Today's customers have so much choice available to them that you just don't have to put up with bad service, one click, a bus ride or across the street is an alternative offer, and it just might be the one that works for the customer. As well as recent Audi antics, in the small market town I live in I have witnessed one of the major supermarket chains lose customers in droves after it installed self-service check outs. A simple study of the town, its demographics and the customers would have warned the company not to make a costly mistake that has seen the John Lewis owned Waitrose down the street mop up customers of late. New technology is great, but when installed in the wrong market catchment in what appears to be a move to reduce costs to the business, but not to the customer, will be treated with the cynicism it deserves.
Back to my recalcitrant Audi; cars are a significant purchase and in the case of my household this was considered to be a good investment for all concerned, Mr and Mrs Chillingworth, children and who knows what else. So to have the car suffer two major breakdowns in less than a year, when the vehicle has done less than 3000 miles is not something any consumer should accept from a premium brand like Audi. After all, I and many other consumers, choose to purchase an Audi because you believe the message that it will deliver you a rewarding experience. Being stuck on the side of the road in sweltering heat with two frightened children as smoke pours from the aforementioned Audi is not a rewarding experience I can tell you. Nor are the broken nights caused by the children's nightmares that follow.
The net result is that one experience of Audi has the potential to put not one but two customers off instantly. These two customers, as is natural, discuss their poor experience with their peers, so on and so forth and the brand damage sets in like rust on an old Morris Marina.
In the name of balance, one CIO recently told me of a longer running experience he has had with Audi that was more positive than I have had.
As technology pervades every facet of the organisation that CIO awareness of the customer's experience with technology will become increasingly important. Because all of us; as brands and businesses have just one chance.