Forget Aligning IT with Business, Bausch & Lomb Aligns IT with Customer


We've heard a lot about aligning IT with the business. But what about aligning IT with the customer?


After all, many of the channels through which customers come into direct contact with companies, including Web sites and contact centers, are touched by IT. In fact, IT factors into most stages of the customer-experience loop, from designing a product, to getting it to customers efficiently, to analyzing customer behaviors in hopes of making improvements.


So maybe Bausch & Lomb is on to something with its decision to appoint a single person to handle IT and (from the press release) "global delivery of customer service processes."


Alan Farnsworth is the company's newly minted SVP of customer service & information technology. An apparent overachiever, Farnsworth is also its CIO, a corporate vice president and acting president of its Europe, Middle East and Africa region. (Though he will turn over the latter role to someone else later this year.)


Sleep much, Alan? It sounds like a lot of responsibility for one man to handle, when I've heard a convincing case that companies should split the CIO role into two positions: one responsible for IT and the other for process improvement.


Still it makes sense, in light of the fact that a growing number of companies are appointing senior executives who are responsible for customer experience across all channels, something I discovered when I interviewed Forrester Research analyst Bruce Temkin earlier this month.


This kind of top-down approach promises a more consistently positive experience for customers, something that every company wants to offer. As Temkin says, it shows a recognition that improving customer service must be a "cross-functional, transformative effort" rather than a collection of isolated departmental or divisional activities.