The CIO as trust builder: earning customer trust through data analytics

Kristen VennumKristen Vennum, Principal in the Advisory Services Performance Improvement Customer Practice at EY, was recognized as one of the 100 Women Worth Watching by Profiles in Diversity Journal. In this post, she talks about the role of the CIO as a “trust builder.”

How important is trust to your business?

In a post-financial crisis world, where corporate reputations are subject to increasing scrutiny, trust has become a significant leadership issue. It has many dimensions, including the trust of employees, regulators or customers. Trust also has a common denominator – it must be earned through action. Simply saying “you should trust us” is inadequate.

Earning customer trust in tandem with the CMO

The CIO, working shoulder-to-shoulder with the CMO, plays a key role in earning the trust of that critical stakeholder group – your customers. A recent EY and Forbes survey of over 300 global executives, Building trusted relationships through analytics and experience, found that analytics is critical to building long-lasting customer relationships and trust in a world where securing customer loyalty is increasingly challenging:

  • Consumers have become more sophisticated and their expectations have increased – they want personalized experiences and two-way communication.
  • Organizations need to leverage real-time data and analytics to enable them to be forward-looking and predictive to the extent of knowing what customers want before they do. This is critical to earning trust through the relevance of your offers.

However, the study found that while many organizations are confident about their in-person customer touch points, there was less belief in their mobile and social touch-points:

  • As many as 73% said they were confident in the abilities of their in-person salesforce, but this drops to 60% for mobile channels.
  • Only 44% use social media interactions, and just 28% use mobile data to uncover customer insights.
  • Only 26% were completely happy about their performance on mobile coupons.

If organizations are still caught between old and new channels, it will compromise their ability to mine customer data to build relevance and trust. Strong cross-departmental collaboration, particularly between the CIO and CMO, helps resolve this issue. It allows organizations to marry the potential of new technologies to the customer experience.

The case for a CIO-CMO alliance

The CMO understands how to build compelling customer experiences. At the same time, CIOs can ensure that the organization’s digital platform is flexible and responsive to customer needs and that the clues customers leave behind in the form of data can be harvested and mined. In fact, the CIO-CMO alliance is fast becoming one of the most critical relationships of today’s successful organizations. Find out more about how CMOs and CIOs can align. In addition, in our next post, we consider some of the more specific actions that a CIO can take to build customer trust through analytics.


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