Customer 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- Organizational Silos: the 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.
- Channel Silos: the 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.
- System Silos: incompatible or standalone technologies — 1) customer experience is #1 criteria, 2) categorize technology types, 3) prioritize by following customer data, 4) learn change management techniques.
- Data Silos: data 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.
- Process Silos: complicated execution — 1) undo management’s inside-out thinking, 2) undo myopia, 3) undo manageability limits, 4) undo silo-ization tendency.
- Vision Silos: being 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.
- Assumption Silos: inconsistent 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.
- Goal Silos: outcomes 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.
- Metrics Silos: reality 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.
- Handoff Silos: quality 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.
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.