Just as there are undeniable laws of physics, there are certain laws of business and IT. One of them is that no matter how many sophisticated tools, technologies and IT systems an organization unleashes, errors, lapses and misunderstandings will inevitably occur.
A product doesn’t work the way a customer thought it would. A Website provides old and outdated information. A software upgrade renders a previously valuable device useless. Sales and customer service reps aren’t trained properly. The possibilities are limitless.
In fact, the more automated and high tech systems become, the bigger the potential breakdown is—and the greater the ensuring frustration when things go south.
Particularly disturbing are business and government entities that attempt to stonewall customers or constituents—or pretend there isn’t a problem when it’s clear that a big fat problem exists. BP learned its lesson the hard way. Predictably, that happens when someone infuriated by the lack of response posts something on Twitter and it goes viral, or when the media goes nuts reporting a glitch or breakdown.
Even if an incident doesn’t go viral, there’s a fundamental question to address: Is this the way to run a company, and does it build the type of passionate loyalty that every business covets?
The answer, of course, is a resounding “No!”
There’s a reason why companies such as Apple, Starbucks and JetBlue have incredibly loyal followings. It’s not only a result of their products and services—and the incredibly sophisticated IT systems they have in place to create a seamless experience. It’s also their focus on old-fashioned values and making customers feel that they’re at the center of the business.
People want to be treated with respect. They don’t want to waste hours tracking down an answer or solving a problem. They don’t want to be tossed into an endless technology feedback loop that benefits (insulates?) the company but not them. And they certainly don’t want to wind up dealing with half-baked policies that, when combined with technology, obliterate efficiency.
Information technology is undeniably at the core of today’s business. But processes and workflows remain at the heart of any successful business. At the end of the day, it’s vital to remember that IT is nothing more than the delivery mechanism for an organization’s values.