The CIO’s Role in Driving Organic Growth & Customer Success
Chidi Alams, the Chief Information Officer of Jiffy Lube’s largest franchisee, shares his insight on the evolving, cross functional role of the CIO.
The Chief Information Officer’s (CIO) role has continually evolved but never quite as quickly and dramatically as in the last few years. As companies realize that digital transformation is not just a technology buzzword but a business mandate, the role of CIO has expanded in lockstep.
The advent of new technologies provides organizations with the ability to compete in many more ways than the traditional metrics of low price or high quality. But to maximize its business potential with technology, an enterprise needs someone with a horizontal view of the organization; someone who understands how technology could benefit each department.
As a long-time technology leader and the current CIO of Jiffy Lube’s largest franchisee, Team Car Care (referred to herein as “Jiffy Lube”), I’ve learned how the CIO is uniquely positioned to take on that role. You can find more on my background here.
Jiffy Lube operates more than 500 locations from coast to coast, serves nearly 5 million customers, and has approximately 4,000 employees.
The Evolving Role of the CIO
I group my responsibilities as CIO of Jiffy Lube into three buckets: classic information technology (IT) functions, Chief Operating Officer or COO-esque responsibilities, and growth/innovation initiatives.
Classic IT - I am responsible for classic Information Technology functions such as managing connectivity for all stores, and maintaining our servers, network, software, cloud services, and the operational technology that supports the business.
COO-esque - Jiffy Lube does not have a COO, so all C-Suite members work together to tackle the prototypical COO responsibilities such as continuous improvement and operational excellence.
Growth/Innovation - I work closely with our Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) to develop and implement digital capabilities that are designed to drive organic growth and customer success.
One thing is for sure: whether your company has a COO or not, the role of the CIO now expands beyond your classic IT needs. A modern CIO can take emerging technology and implement it in a way that results in competitive advantages for the business across all functionalities and geographies.
On any given day, my role today includes a combination of all three functional buckets above, but in this blog I’m going to focus on #3.
Achieving Business Goals through Design Thinking
Jiffy Lube recently embarked on a business model transformation, expanding from our traditional oil change service shop model -- which remains our core business model -- into a full-service auto maintenance and repair model. The full-service model, dubbed MultiCare, will handle brakes, tires, and a multitude of other vehicle needs.
Driving organic growth and customer value are key pillars of success to the MultiCare business model. These goals require Jiffy Lube to adopt digital technologies to unlock new ways to engage with customers in terms of Marketing, Sales and retention.
To correlate those business goals with our technology capabilities, I led an offsite leadership meeting that used a design thinking approach to innovation. This technique is anchored in understanding customer needs, rapid prototyping, generating creative ideas, and then transforming the way a firm develops and delivers products and services through the framework.
Design thinking is historically left to the Product and Marketing functions, but we as CIOs have an advantage in helping build out the design thinking framework due to our cross functional experience and mindset.
Driving Organic Growth: Call Center as a Service (CCaaS) Initiative
At the offsite meeting we mapped out the customer journey and areas for improvement. In this exercise, it became clear that there were new “customer signals” we needed to respond to as a company in order to meet the needs of our customers during the pandemic and beyond.
One of the resulting initiatives was building out our first call center through a Call Center as a Service (CCaaS) model. Historically, the local Jiffy Lube stores handled all telephonic customer inquiries. That meant that the staff and shop technicians who are focused on servicing vehicles were also required to serve as sales and customer service experts when customers came calling.
The new CCaaS initiative enables a customer touchpoint that functions as an extension of our retail locations and creates new opportunities to engage and educate our customers regarding our service offerings. We predict that this enhanced customer experience will also improve our top-line performance and growth across our product mix.
The decision to implement a call center was made between Operations, Marketing and IT. The IT team was involved to provide context around the opportunity with data to prove out its value - and, of course, the implementation of the actual vendor and associated technologies.
Driving Customer Success: Service Review Initiative
At our offsite, we also spent time defining “customer success” and finding ways to correlate our business and IT initiatives with it. Our mission is to “be the most trusted car care company in the nation”. To measure customer sentiment as it relates to our vision, we measure and track a few key trust indicators (lead measures) such as online reviews.
Through research and tracking our trust indicators, we learned that the customer’s in-store interaction with our technicians can be intimidating due to the technical nature of automobile servicing.
To combat this, we recently deployed a tablet-based application, Service Review, that allows technicians and Customer Service Agents to report on each car’s condition with an organized, online shopping Amazon-like experience. Our goal was to move away from the paper/verbal service model in favor of a digital model that facilitates an interactive conversation with our customers that ultimately engenders trust.
The Service Review application also allows us to capture and utilize customer data in new ways. For example, if a customer previously declined a brake pad service, we capture that information and feed it into our CRM that can now use that data to send follow-up and reminder notifications regarding their outstanding service. In addition to driving potential revenue opportunities, this feature lets the customer know that Jiffy Lube has their vehicle’s well-being top of mind.
IT Readiness Drives Organic Growth
With digital transformation top of mind, our IT team was expanding our network a year before we kicked off the Call Center and Service Review initiatives.
Robust connectivity has become a foundational building block for digital transformation, so we upgraded the bandwidth available in all of our stores and built more flexibility and resiliency in our enterprise network stack via secure SD-WAN (Software Defined Wide Area Network) and wireless DR services. We also implemented enterprise-grade customer and employee Wi-Fi, which lays the foundation to extend our omnichannel strategy to each retail location.
Without this upgraded network foundation, neither the Call Center nor Service Review initiatives would have been able to take place.
CIOs are the Data Center Custodian No More
In sum, gone are the days when CIOs were only the data center custodian. In my time at Jiffy Lube I’ve worked on projects ranging from the CCaaS implementation discussed above, to working with our CMO to engineer digital marketing initiatives and the rollout of our CRM Program.
A CIO’s superpowers today do not come from just understanding technology – that is a given. We sit in the unique position of being involved in every aspect of the business: IT, Marketing, Finance, Sales, Operations, and Human Resources and so on. It’s no surprise that we’ve seen a trend of CIOs transitioning to COO roles.
As CIOs we can leverage that experience to drive not only organic growth and customer success - but even large-scale transformation across your entire enterprise.
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