Great Experience is Equal Parts People and Technology
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Great Experience is Equal Parts People and Technology

Tish Whitcraft, CCO, OpenX

Technology can enable great experiences because it can allow people who are building a relationship to focus on just that-the relationship - instead of jumping from screen to screen and system to system. The idea around great tool and system design, when done right, is to make the customer agent’s job as simple and easy as possible. It does not require them to think about the technology but rather the interaction—the customer experience. This is the CX in tech terms.

In many organizations, the CIO is responsible for the information technology and computer systems that support enterprise goals – in plain speak...responsible for the data and systems that support your customers.

When a CIO is building the systems and connecting the data necessary for the front line to deliver a great CX, their job is far more than just building and maintaining the technology, but understanding how people USE it and making it EASIER for people to use it. By making the technology easy the bulk of focus can be on interaction with the customer, rather than systems.

Service lags behind sales in CX. Sales side CRM companies have figured out most of us use our phones and tablets more than desktop devices. Mobile first environments are more streamlined, designed to make the interaction simple, and allow the agent to focus on the conversation instead of screens, login prompts and waiting for data to populate into fields.

​  We need to get away from the UI of the past, which is the present desktop UI—essentially a reflection of the data model. 

Zappos is an example of a beloved brand who’s internal tools and systems mirror what every customer sees—yes, the same interface and system. The same straightforward, design and ability to search makes it easy for the agent as well. Think about building an elegant experience for your internal customers—agents.

Yet two-thirds of transactions with customers are still done through desktop with little or no effort to bring those systems into the modern mobile-first age. Why is this so common? There is a lot more data we’re having to store and handle now. We’re in the era of big data and this means more data. Mobile first companies understand this and have spent the time to understand how people use asystem with limited space versus a desktop experience geared around putting absolutely everything possible into the system...just in case it’s needed.  

Can a mobile first, simplified solution be applied to more complex customer interactions?

Is there a conflict between developing and delivering the right technology so a great experience can be delivered to the remaining two-thirds of all customer interactions?

When we think about mobile design, by necessity we think of elegant, simple interfaces instead of a collection of data fields on a screen. We think about the order and layout of how to display the information because of the limited screen space. In other words, we’re forced to think clean and easyUI which can translate to a clean and easy UX for the customer agent. Less can be more. Think about designing calls-to-action into sliders, and allow your agents then to like internal knowledge base articles. Simplicity and engagement for the front line folks means a happy employee delivering great customer experiences.

When discussing the CX of tools and systems, it’s  important to understand what the final UX really consists of. It’s not only about having the slickest UI controls for working with the data, the flashiest graphics for visualizing the sales pipeline or the most creative layouts for presenting different data sources on one screen. At the end of the day, the customer agents need to easily accomplish the tasks they are responsible for, with the help of technology, not in spite of it.   

Understanding what exactly those tasks are, how the customer agent uses it, how the system enables a great customer experience and what data is relevant needs to be as important as building the UI itself. Without doing this, you’re quickly adding to an agent’s labyrinth of screens, logins and collections of data. We need to get away from the UI of the past, which is the present desktop UI—essentially a reflection of the data model.

Perhaps it's time to think about mobile first CX development when building the tools, systems and connecting of data that our teams use when interacting with our customers.

It’s not rocket science, but it does require more time up front, prior to actual development, to understand how the customer agent will use it and how the customer will benefit from it. In the end, it will be well worth it with happy employees and customers.


A CIO's job is to ensure that the technology supporting those who are on the front line, interacting with customers, is additive to a smooth relationship with the customer, not disruptive. The first mass application of this was with sales. All sales professionals today are armed with mobile devices and iPhones that have simplified intuitive interfaces, but the people who spend the most time with customers (CRM, etc) are still primarily using convoluted, time-consuming, desktop systems. 

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