Today, the number one challenge of the web professional is as a change manager.
Most organizations are simply not ready for the modern world the Web is driving. But what exactly is the modern world? Is it all about technology? Is it all about content?
Absolutely not. Technology and content are the disrupters. They are forcing the change but they are most definitely not what the change is about. What the explosion in technology and content has brought about is a world where customers know an awful lot more about organizations and where organizations know (or at least have the potential to know) an awful lot more about customers.
It is a world where understanding and organizing around the customer is essential to success. That is not how most organizations are organized. It is not how most organizations think. Most organizations have an organization-centric culture, not a customer-centric one.
A web professional’s number one challenge is to champion and promote a customer-centric culture. Without that, practically everything else is useless, or in fact counter-productive.
The need to be customer-centric is just as important for intranets, where the customer is the employee. I know how hard it is. Traditional communications departments are often led by a senior management that is used to command and control. The intranet is seen as a vehicle through which senior management tells staff how to think and behave. That world is gone.
Lifelong employment and unquestioned loyalty and obedience are from another age. Today’s employees want to advance their careers through quality training and career development. They want the intranet to help them do that quickly and easily. They are tired of bland "feel good" propaganda news stories. They want an intranet that helps them become more productive and collaborative. Something that is easy to use, which most intranets are not.
Senior managers, in particular, are struggling to come to terms with the new world. However, there is a general consensus that customer satisfaction is key to future success. Web professionals must leverage that and become customer satisfaction champions.
We must show how to increase customer satisfaction. That often begins with showing how dissatisfied customers currently are with their web experience. Here, the statistics don’t cut it. I have told managers that 60% of customers quickly abandon a particular page, representing thousands of customers a day. It simply doesn’t register. But when I show a video of a couple of these customers actually abandoning the page in frustration, that does register.
There is no immediate success. It is a constant process of championing the customer and it takes years. And you will never achieve total success. Unless there is a continuous effort to put the customer experience at the center of everything that is done, organization-centric thinking will re-emerge. Remember, it is wholly unnatural for most organizations to be customer-centric.
Changing the culture of an organization is not easy but it is possible. Without the introduction of a truly customer-centric culture organizations will struggle to succeed in this modern age of the empowered customer.
About the Author
Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994. His latest book is titled The Stranger's Long Neck: How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want Online.