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Using Technology To Get Closer To Your Customers

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John Clarke | SVP & CIO | Nokia

One of the areas that, for me, demonstrates where we best led IT innovation within the business was when I was working within retail as a CTO. What we recognized there with the business is that we had staff in a store, hidden away, doing their work behind the scenes in the back office. Customers were stuck in the store in the aisle with questions. The opportunity there was how to bring the two together. What we looked at doing was: how do we completely mobilize the staff so they can do all their work in the aisle directly in front of the customer? Should the customers have a question, and they did, the staff would be there. Also the staff wouldn’t need to—and they did in some cases—run backwards and forwards all day long to a green screen. They could do all their work far more seamlessly. We completely mobilized their work activity to a mobile device in a store. That had a fantastic impact on store morale and an even better impact on customer satisfaction. They always felt there was somebody there they could ask a question of. By doing that, there was a huge increase in productivity. One was it saved them a lot on shoe wear. They would spend, in some large stores, a lot of time and footwear going to and fro, trying to get answers. It let them do their jobs, check on the stock level, check on the range, and print off some papers, because they had belt printers as well. It let them do all that at the point where there was a problem and then feed that back to somebody in real time. It just made them far more effective. I say they did that being next to the customer, and staff like to be with customers generally. My lesson from this was, do not underestimate the benefits of getting your workforce closer to the customer, letting them use technologies to do that, but letting them do the work with the customer. It lets them understand what the customer feels, their frustration or their happiness, but also deal with any needs they may have.

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