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customer experience silosCustomer experience silos are kryptonite, weakening your super-friendly staff, touch-points and designs. Smooth customer experiences require silo-solving across the customer journey. If your company wants to become a customer experience super-power, standing out in your industry and reaping those financial advantages, silo-solving must be predominant in your customer experience strategy.

Who Needs to Solve Silos

The culprits of damaging silos are throughout your company, in every functional area. As each manager strives to keep their work manageable, they’re probably building-in silos that short-change information-sharing, smooth handoffs, and collaborative ownership of the bigger picture from the customer’s viewpoint.

Likewise, in the management of customer experience itself, we often build-in customer experience silos unwittingly: voice-of-the-customer must be tied neatly to business intelligence and continual improvement initiatives and innovation and loyalty management. When it’s not, we’re investing a lot in efforts that aren’t producing what they otherwise could (sub-optimal ROI). When it’s not, we’re likely asking customers to engage in things in an unnatural way, or in ways that don’t truly pay off for them.

How to Solve Customer Experience Silos

In this article series we’ve discussed the quandaries and solutions for 10 types of customer experience silos: organizational, channels, systems, data, processes, vision, assumptions, goals, metrics, and handoffs.

Overall, there are 4 keys to solving customer experience silos:

  1. Broaden Perspectives: make sure outside-in thinking is more than skin-deep, both in substance and in organizational penetration throughout the ranks and far corners of your company. An outside-in perspective is the context that is essential to thinking about work in ways that customers will naturally reward. To do this, share customers’ comments and stories with all employees at every opportunity, in a wide variety of formats and media and spokespersons. Point out how each comment/story applies to each functional area.
  2. Expand Motivations: show everyone “what’s in it for me” from their vantage point. For example, what is the size of the business at-risk; how much money could be diverted from wasteful consequences of poor/remedial customer experience management to higher value work, budgets and salaries; build on the positives among what gets people ahead in your company; modify the negatives among what gets people ahead or not. Apply voice-of-the-customer to customer lifetime value and operational data. Find patterns in customer experience data that tell compelling stories. Make sure motivations are putting customers’ interests first, with the firm belief that all other concerns will be well served along the way.
  3. Nurture Collaboration: empower employees to help one another, incentivize managers to coordinate with others, celebrate cross-functional progress, reward teams’ prevention of issues, and increase internal transparency of missed opportunities as well as collaborative successes. Expanded perspectives and motivations pave the way for a collaborative environment. Tap into charismatic influencers and create a cadence for cross-organizational teams to zero-in on root causes of chronic issues, aiming to prevent recurrence or initial occurrence of annoyances for customers.
  4. Build-in Universality: when assigning a task or embarking on a project, first ask: who else uses this or should use it — what can we learn from them or share with them — how can we make the outcome seamless both for customers and employees? Use tools such as inter-relationship diagraphs, fishbone diagrams, and so forth to see the big picture. Get maximum ROI by building-in interchangeability, transparency, free-flow, accountability, and seamlessness.

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Solving 10 Customer Experience Silos

Here is a brief description of 10 critical business management silos that take a toll on customer experience and its ROI — and what you can do to solve these customer experience silos.

  1. Organizational Silosthe right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing — 1) expand perspectives, 2) influence motivations, 3) set cadences for collaboration, 4) anticipate universality for ongoing bridging.
  2. Channel Silosthe experience differs by platform or source — 1) see customers’ reality, 2) see the big-picture of moving parts, 3) make omni-omni channels (i.e. omni-channel service is seamless with omni-channel sales, omni-channel marketing and omni-channel operations), 4) nurture cross-organizational collaboration.
  3. System Silosincompatible or standalone technologies — 1) customer experience is #1 criteria, 2) categorize technology types, 3) prioritize by following customer data, 4) learn change management techniques.
  4. Data Silosdata in disparate systems or mis-matching data — 1) center your data hub on customers, 2) agile-ize your operations data, 3) synthesize customer experience data: (a) bridging customer feedback silos, (b) bridging end-to-end customer experience management, (c) bridging customer experience management metrics.
  5. Process Siloscomplicated execution — 1) undo management’s inside-out thinking, 2) undo myopia, 3) undo manageability limits, 4) undo silo-ization tendency.
  6. Vision Silosbeing out-of-sync with the hand that feeds you — 1) build your brand promise on customers’ wish list, 2) make your brand promise the guide for how your whole company needs to think and do, 3) reality-check your CXM as a limiter or contributor of customer experience excellence.
  7. Assumption Silosinconsistent customer experience views and onus across functional areas — 1) lose your tedious surveys, 2) lose your fear of comments, 3) lose your fear of holistic CX management, 4) lose your fear of organizational CXM adoption.
  8. Goal Silosoutcomes are not congruent with intentions — 1) note how various goals work together (or not), 2) follow the money, 3) execute the full equation, 3) put the horse before the cart, 4) make the pig itself beautiful: get things right the first time and every time.
  9. Metrics Silosreality is overstated or momentum is masked — 1) reveal underlying factors, 2) make the big picture transparent, 3) prevent any compulsion to cook the books, 4) connect the dots.
  10. Handoff Silosquality or timing or work doesn’t match recipient’s needs — 1) customer-centric job descriptions, 2) customer-centric priorities, 3) internal customer experience management, 4) customer-centric process and policy audits, 5) customer-centric alliances, 6) customer-centric employee engagement.

Solving customer experience silos is what customer experience management is all about. It’s customer-centered business management. It’s common sense, but not yet common practice.

When you focus on customers as the reason for your company’s existence, center your management on what’s best for your primary customer segment, and firmly believe that most of your other concerns will be addressed as a byproduct of centering on customers, you’ll prevent customer experience silos in the first place. Let’s not create new silos.

Let’s embark on a whole-hearted mission to solve customer experience silos. You’ll see less waste, less frustration, less turnover. You’ll remove the kryptonite from your super staff, super customer touch-points, and super user experience design. You’ll see your company’s customer experience stand-out brightly and reap higher engagement, momentum, profits and growth as expected.

Customer Experience Strategy Quiz

#1. Which CX strategy approach will have greatest impact? ? "Impact" means strategic, financial and sustained progress

Like financial implications of every decision, customer experience is affected by every decision. In fact, revenue comes from customers; hence, it’s ideal to integrate customer experience insights and impact as a foundation and consideration in every objective, policy, process, etc. (This is explained in the article: What is Customer Experience Ecosystem?)

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#2. The best way to start your customer experience strategy is: ? How do other initiatives thrive in your company?

It’s irregular in most business endeavors to rush out and buy, or to use trial-and-error or narrow approaches for strategic initiatives. What’s best is to take inventory of lessons learned, progress underway, and so forth, then conduct a stakeholder analysis to understand success factors, caveats and resistance factors, and then to socialize a plan. CX is too important to costs and revenue to do otherwise. (This is explained in the article: Strategic Customer Experience Action on Voice of the Customer)

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#3. Which corporate strategy approach will have greatest impact? ? "Impact" means strategic, financial and sustained progress

Consider well-liked brands like Disney and Ritz Carlton: top executives were crystal clear about how customers should feel across their end-to-end journey with their brand. This permeated everything: who’s on the board, who’s hired, and how onboarding, reviews, development, budgeting, and so forth are done. CX is not an either/or, but rather, interwoven. (This is explained in the article: CEO’s Guide to Growth Through Customer Experience Alignment)

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#4. B2C vs. B2B customer experience strategy: ? Read ALL choices before selecting one

Customer-facing needs can differ widely between retail/consumer environments and non-retail/business environments. Yet the silos that exist at headquarters and other non-customer-facing areas of a B2C company are remarkably similar to those at B2B companies. This is why culture and organizational adoption and accountability for CX performance transcends industries and sectors. Maturity is less about specific practices and more about mindsets, handoffs and results. B2B has many of these things inherent in dedicated account management. (This is explained in this article: Are B2B & B2C Customer Experience Management Different?)

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#5. If we do not strive to make CX a context for overall management: ? Read ALL choices before selecting one

Competing agendas slow-down CX progress, especially when a lot of change is underway in economic growth or downturns, or organizational leadership. (This is explained in this article: Growth Through Customer Experience Momentum)

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10 critical business management silos that take a toll on #CustomerExperience and its ROI. See what you can do to solve #CX silos. Click To Tweet

Originally published as an exclusive Advisors monthly column in a 12-part series on CustomerThink.com: How to Solve Customer Experience Silos.

Image licensed to ClearAction by Shutterstock.

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