3 Steps to Trust not Bust Your Customer Experience Silos

In my last post, I talked about the importance of taking a customer-centric view of business systems. Not meaning the software applications that organisations run, but the people, policies, processes and organisations that makes up the way a business interacts with it’s customers.

I described this as “thinking inside the box” and discussed some of the things we recommend to our clients to fine tune the system of the business to improve the customer experience.

However, when you drill into a customer experience challenge you quickly find that companies are made up of a number of boxes—a motley crew of business units, expertise centers, resource silos and political fiefdoms—all with different goals, cultures, levels of engagement and perspectives on the customer or their task at hand.

Such boxes are loosely coupled by internal processes, policies and perhaps a roughly common aim.

On a good day, it all sorta comes together.

On a really bad day there’s a YouTube video of an angry customer.

On most days, there is probably someone thinking there must be a better way. And sometimes that “someone” is the customer.

Let’s imagine an organisation identifies a need to deliver an item of relevant content to a customer that will save them a few clicks toward achieving their task and deliver an engaged customer to the organisation.

It could be a related product, a similar news article, an event in their area or an introduction to someone, a product or service that can help. You know the sort of thing.

Driving an initiative like this can be like pinball. You bump around around the business, from IT, to the analytics team, then to the content people, customer support, the web manager, the front-end developers, the mobile guys, the campaign team and, of course, the agency.

It’s at this point many suggest a strategy of “silo busting” to knock the walls out of an organisation (maybe literally) and build an organisation of people, systems, processes and software applications that will scrub this dirty dozen into a uniformed fighting force.

Well, yes.

Or maybe no.

Yes, bringing teams and systems together is a generally good thing. However, people are tribal, it’s human nature for us to create clustered work units within an organisation. We define ourselves by roles within departments.

So “silo busting” is not the way I suggest approaching the problem with clients, the approach is integration—to trust the silos.

How do we do that? I think there are three keys.

The first seems obvious and maybe simple, but it seems to be the hallmark of many great companies:

1. Get a common understanding of what your company wants to do—the core principle—and articulate each box’s role in that mission.

I don’t mean a mission like ‘raise the share price,’ ‘sell more stuff,’ or even “don’t be evil,” but rather the transformational business objective that this digital initiative is supporting.

I recently worked with a client who, through engagement with senior stakeholders, we defined a set of objectives that became a charter that would drive their digital transformation and validate their activities (the focus of which was to launch a new website and content strategy) and their list included:

Need an experience that is driven by seeing (the company) through the customers’ eyes
Communicate the full (company) value proposition, character, values and people
Not building a website, but a foundation for a contemporary digital strategy
Without these common shared goals and perspectives, it’s easy for the individual cogs—or boxes—within the organization to rotate around their narrow view or function. Using the full list of digital marketing or customer experience objectives we are able to unify the different operation units with common objectives.

Next up, in the previous post I talked about the importance of:

2. Map the customer journey.

For a customer-centric organization, the goal for a detailed, well researched, data driven customer journey map is for it to provide the integration conduit that connects all of the functions within the business. Creating a consistent and agreed view of the customer, their needs and the tasks they are trying to complete and each business unit’s role in that.

Finally, (for this post):

3. Measure your teams.

Here is a very specific example from my world of content marketing: Let’s imagine a company’s marketers are rewarded or get kudos on web hits, traffic and buzz. Yet the customer journey mapping and customer insights process discovers that very focused, relevant content (not the popular content) creates better engagement with the client.

In this case, both the customer and the organization are going to be poorly served by a marketing team that are producing light, popular content focused on getting attention (as measured by web hits and traffic) over getting engagement. The customer doesn’t get the relevant in-depth content they need to make a purchasing decision and the organizations doesn’t make a sale.

A simple example perhaps, but it’s surprisingly common way organizations create and perpetuate silos by rewarding different groups, roles and departments without a common connection to a shared goal.

So, there we have it – three practical steps organizations can take to trust the silos and become less fragmented in the face of the customer.


This post originally appeared on the Tahzoo blog

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