Stephen Jackson's title may be chief information officer, but "customer information officer" is a more apt description of his activities.
Throughout his career, Jackson has shown a knack for spotting and addressing customer needs and then, equally important, understanding the business process and employee behavioral changes needed to meet those needs.
That said, Jackson's no slouch when it comes to applying technology to support the sorts of internal procedural and behavior changes that ultimately delight customers. Consider his efforts to lead high-end menswear retailer Harry Rosen's recent foray into mobile CRM.
The decision to equip the company's sales associates with smartphones that can access the company's Sage SalesLogix CRM system was not made to keep pace with competitors or because of a "mobile is too big not to be there" concern. Instead, Jackson spotted a business issue by stepping into customers' well-heeled shoes. What he saw was a gap in Harry Rosen's use of its CRM system: Customers who dropped by stores unannounced would catch sales associates by surprise. To access the rich trove of customer preference information stored in the CRM system, sales associates would have to excuse themselves from the customer and walk over to a computer to access the customer's file.
"Mobile allowed us to put all of that information on a smartphone so that our sales associates could look up the information without disengaging from their clients," Jackson explains. "We really approached this from a business perspective and not a technology perspective."
Using Sage SalesLogix Mobile, Harry Rosen sales associates are finding new ways to delight customers, regardless of whether they make appointments or drop into stores unannounced. "They're taking pictures of merchandise, emailing the photos to clients, creating digital photo books of the clothes in clients' closets, and getting big sales as a result," Jackson notes.
Those results-happier customers, an information-empowered sales force, and rising revenues-mark the outcomes of Jackson's customer focus, as well as his business savvy, which has translated to some innovative technology management decisions. For example, rather than select and assign a standard smartphone for sales associates to use, Jackson and his team opted to let the sales employees select and buy their own smartphones. Doing so created some relatively minor compatibility and control challenges, but greatly increased buy-in. "If you try to impose a phone on people, that can generate a lot of resistance," Jackson says. "Some people are iPhone people. Some people love their BlackBerries. We wanted to avoid anything that might prevent our sales associates from using their device whenever they need to access a client record."
That access represents another way Jackson has helped employees strengthen their relationships with customers. He has also helped develop unique measures-such as how frequently clients return to stores-to more effectively measure, and therefore manage, the quality of sales associates' relationships with their clients. "Mobility allows us to improve our clients' experiences by saving them timeand better understanding their preferences and needs," Jackson says.
Ask Jackson to look ahead to other ways he plans to use technology to strengthen customer relationships and he responds by looking back: "We say we've been practicing CRM since 1954. Our founder, Harry Rosen, used to track important client information-sizes, style preferences, and more-on index cards. Whatever we do next will be a natural extension of what we've been doing all along."