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3 Ways to Become a More Customer-Facing CIO

Becoming a more customer-facing CIO involves, well, facing the customer – literally. In a straightforward article for the Enterprise Project, Cynthia Stoddard speaks from experience when she argues that physical proximity and observation of day-to-day routines is the key to gaining an edge for IT.

Three Tips

  1. Divide time to include customers.
  2. Relay what I hear from customers back to the business.
  3. Stay close to employees whose business is the customer.

Stoddard is very conscious about how she divvies up her time – one-third goes to working with the business, one-third goes to IT, and the last third goes to the customer. The genius of this approach is that it effectively regulates against the most aggressive aspect of her workweek.

Like the postal service, Stoddard delivers customer ideas to the business in a consistent and timely way. In fact, she even developed a program that sounds a lot like postal delivery:

When I worked in transportation and logistics, I used to have a program we called “Ride with a Driver.”  Everyone in my organization had to go out and ride on a pickup and delivery with a driver, so they could understand firsthand what our drivers did to service the customers.  Those IT teams came back with their eyes opened. They would say things like, “Oh, we designed something on a handheld that they can’t ever use it. It’s too clumsy.” I did the same thing in retail. I had people actually go out and work in the store so that they could share the experience with the customer. 

You may be thinking that “only a product-oriented company could pull off what hers does.” But Stoddard argues that any company can become customer-focused if they take the time to get up close and personal with the customer.

Read the original article at:

About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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