Our website uses cookies

Cookies enable us to provide the best experience possible and help us understand how visitors use our website. By browsing Essential Retail Magazine, you agree to our use of cookies.

Okay, I understand Learn more

Addison Lee on using mobility-as-a-service to create great CX

Addison Lee’s global CIO Ian Cohen has a single-minded focus on great product development and he is placing customer experience at the heart of the transport specialist’s business strategy through an integrated approach to systems and services.

Cohen joined the firm last August after spending almost three years building a portfolio career, helping start-up and scale-up businesses to emerge and grow. Cohen – who has held digital leadership roles at Lloyds Bank, Financial Times, Associated Newspapers and Jardine Lloyd Thompson – says a focus on customer experience must be a guiding principle for modern firms.

“If you’re going to say your company is customer-centric, then you better make sure it is,” he says. “The best retailers and consumer-focused businesses are able to understand the emotional state of their clients and tailor offers to suit them.”

The rise of the chief product and technology officer (CPTO)

Such is the level of Cohen’s focus on consumer experience-driven product developments that his CIO role has morphed into chief product and technology officer (CPTO). Cohen describes this position as a new type of CIO role, where his remit runs from product management, through development and platform engineering, and onto infrastructure and delivery.

“If you’re going to say your company is customer-centric, then you better make sure it is."

Cohen says the rise of the CPTO-type position is connected to the need for modern businesses to be obsessed with customer experience-driven, product-led development. The single-minded concentration on the customer forces organisations to focus on experiences – and that creates a specific role for digital systems and services.

“Real product management is about working to the point that everything your business does is experience driven,” says Cohen. “That focus forces your organisation to look at the customer differently. Successful businesses know that if they genuinely see themselves through the eyes of their customers, then they’ll create greater levels of engagement.”

Mobility-as-a-service

Cohen is using a range of technologies at Addison Lee to create what he refers to as “mobility as-a-service”. He is moving away from big-stack, monolithic IT systems and toward flexible and extensible services through the introduction of the hybrid cloud, rapid decomposition, micro-services architecture and service bus-enabled technologies.

The aim, says Cohen, is to help Addison Lee create a series of experiences that are available digitally on whatever device a customer chooses to use. “If we get that as-a-service approach right, we deepen trust – our customers trust our cars to arrive on time, that they are properly maintained and that our drivers know where they’re going and are focussed on you,” he says.

Cohen’s believes this customer-focused approach is in sharp contrast to the lip service paid to engagement by many technology chiefs. He says too many digital leaders are still guilty of simply implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) platform and then believing their business is customer-centric by default.

"More than just buying a CRM system"

Successful customer-focused businesses, says Cohen, do much more than buy a CRM system and push content out in the hope of getting more purchases from regular clients and, therefore, more money. While Addison Lee is using Salesforce to help develop effective marketing strategies, the firm sees CRM as part of an integrated approach to technology implementation and the creation of high-quality experiences.

“CRM systems are all-too-often implemented to just sell more of what firms already produce, whether the customers actually want it or not,” says Cohen. “Even firms that are doing CRM well are still essentially thinking inside out and just pushing what they have at customers. However, the ones who are truly mastering CRM are thinking outside in. They are focused on how they engage with customers to learn, iterate and adapt their products and services to better meet and anticipate their needs.”

“CRM systems are all-too-often implemented to just sell more of what firms already produce, whether the customers actually want it or not,” says Cohen. “Even firms that are doing CRM well are still essentially thinking inside out and just pushing what they have at customers."

While technology platforms such as CRM plays a crucial role in effective customer relationships, Cohen says systems and services should just be one element of a multifaceted and business-wide approach to experiences.

To be effective, companies must place the requirements of clients at the core of operational activities. Cohen says the consequence of his firm investing heavily – in driver training, of having its own fleet of cars, and of building a business model based on trust, assurance and quality – is that Addison Lee is more likely to build great experiences for its customers.

“And if you create great experiences, you’ll create advocates – these people will walk around and talk with others about their great experiences and that is priceless. You can’t buy that type of marketing – and you shouldn’t try and create that success by simply pushing content out,” says Cohen.

“To create advocates, you need to develop environments where great experiences are possible. It’s all about having moments of truth with your customers and being able to act on that moment from their point of view. If you do that, they’ll become a fan.” 

What’s Hot on Essential Retail?