marketing silos solutionsA stunning 82% of people have stopped doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience. If that’s not enough to shock you into looking at ways to bridge your channel silos to ensure smooth customer experience, then consider this Forbes article quote by Bill Hobbib, which I think pretty much says it all:

“Potential revenue loss for not offering a positive, consistent, and brand-relevant customer experience is 20% of annual revenue, or $400 million for a $2 billion company.” — Bill Hobbib

When you consider the many touch-points a customer has with a company, you begin to see the value in working across channel silos to create one consistent or omni-channel approach. According to an Aberdeen study, companies striving for an omni-channel customer experience saw a 91% increase in customer retention rate. Simply put, what’s good for your customer is good for your company.

What are Channels?
There was a time not so long ago when channels ubiquitously referred to sales channels — the methods or practices companies used to transfer ownership of goods and services sold. Today’s reality is much more inclusive and extends to the many ways we interact with and connect to our customers and target audience.

With the proliferation of tools and resources our customers use to gather information and make decisions, the number of channels through which we serve them continues to grow. Lynn Hunsaker recently offered this definition of channel silos in her article Customer Experience Boggle Busters for Channel Silos: “Channel silos include service, sales, marketing, and operational channels. Whatever way the customer is interacting with the brand, the bottom line is consistency.” I think this is a good place to start.

3 Types of Channel Silos
The good news is that silos are not necessarily a bad thing. Silos enable specialization, efficiency, and convenience in managing business by centers of excellence. We run amok with silos when we allow our centers of excellence to function like rogue city-states — walled-off from the bigger picture of customer needs and the enterprise as a whole.

  1. Sales Channels have always played an important role in moving product and service from the manufacture or supplier to the customer. Today’s customer expects this experience to be flawless and consistent regardless of the sales channel used for the purchase. Empowering your channel partners to deliver product, service and a customer experience value that is a consistent extension of the company brand promise is key to their success and yours.
  2. Marketing Channels include the many communications vehicles, technologies and platforms companies use to share information about their product or service. In an over-simplistic view, these break down into two general categories — out-bound interruption-based marketing and in-bound permission-based marketing. Marketing channels also include delivery of messages, such as mobile, online, print.
  3. Operational Channels play a key role in the big-picture success with your customer. Operational channels are the ways that customers take post-sale ownership of your offerings — Internet, mobile, brick-and-mortar, vending machines, mail/parcel delivery, phone, onsite visit, and so on.

Tie Your Brand Promise Into Your Total Customer Experience
Customer data is gathered and used by each channel in your organization. Take time to understand the relationships, inter-dependencies, and overlaps in how this information is gathered and used. It is an opportunity to empower the customer at each touch-point. Remember, from the customer’s perspective all silos equal the same company. Hence, silos should be seamless.

The key is cross-pollination: build opportunities to create consistent experience across all deliverables, driving consistent brand promise across the total user experience.

Viewing interactions from the customer perspective and making it easier for the customer to engage with the company is at the core of great marketing. It is a natural area for marketing operations professionals to add value and deliver impact. As marketing operations leaders, we should continually ask ourselves:

  • Does this system, process, message or touch-point create a great customer experience?
  • Does it make it easier for the customer to do business with us, or create hassles that make our company hard to love (or even like)?

Our goal should be to remove hassles that don’t serve the end goal — delivering great value in the most customer-centric way possible. Remove the hassles (a hindering force) and your company is ten times more likely to create customer delight — fostering deeper loyalty and maximizing profits as a by-product.

A key to success is to create a culture that is able to engage with your customers in ways and across mediums to which they are most receptive — at every touch-point of the customer life cycle.

It’s all about mindset and acting on it. We have an unparalleled opportunity to help our marketing organizations adopt a silo-bridging mindset. We can do this by building a business case for change, assisting cross-functional teams through the change process, and role-modeling behavior that supports this new way of thinking, decision-making, and execution. As marketing operations leaders, we owe it to ourselves, our company and, most of all, our customers to be proactive in creating synergy across all channels.

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