30 Jul, 2018 Positive CX Requires Breaking Internal Silos
Humach focuses extensively on the impact of customer experience to an organization. Whether we are discussing the effect on revenue, the influence of the customer, or the outcome of a solid customer journey, we recognize that customer experience can positively or negatively change the trajectory of an organization. It’s no secret that at Humach we believe customer experience is a top-level, organizational initiative, and there are many who agree with that philosophy. Which leads to the question – Why is there a challenge with implementing a full-scope CX initiative? While there are several, we want to focus on one of the major deterrents we see consistently – internal silos.
At a recent customer experience conference, we heard multiple stories of the frustrations around internal silos. When you have an organization that does not have a clear leader for the CX strategy, each department will focus on its specific interpretation of customer experience. IT will focus on technology, marketing on campaigns, customer support on transactions and resolution – the list goes on. There is little to no sharing of information, no cross-pollination of critical data points, and no complete understanding of the customer journey throughout the entire organization.
In an article on the impact of emerging workforce ecosystems, Forbes outlines how our current workforce dynamic of mixing contractors, freelancers and employees will change the internal culture of organizations and, consequently, the way customers are handled. The article discusses how the influx of contractors and freelancers will change the internal and customer experience dynamic through a pollination of new ideas and responsibilities that bridge gaps between functional areas.
“I like the idea of utilizing fresh approaches brought forth by freelancers and contractors,” says Houlne. “However, for that to be effective, the organization needs an internal focus on customer experience that allows for feedback to be heard and implemented across the organization.”
CX As Part of the Corporate Culture
The Forbes article outlines a concept that corporate culture is made up of employee experience and contractor experience. The idea is that these two “metrics” will positively or negatively impact customer experience and will eventually outweigh silo thinking with continual contribution of new ideas from fresh talent. With 44 percent of talent spend on contractors and freelancers, it’s a viable idea, but potentially slow to come to fruition as most organizations do not have a formalized process to capture the new feedback. Rather than wait for new talent to come up with great ideas down the road, there is a better way to start today.
“Making CX a part of corporate culture is the first step to real success,” says Houlne. “It’s a CEO initiative that must be taken seriously and implemented holistically throughout the organization.”
Top-down CX strategies unify existing internal silos by ensuring that communication and information is consistently shared and appropriately analyzed for results, creating a complete view of the customer from the first touchpoint to the most recent.
“It’s not enough to have the latest CX technology,” says Houlne. “That technology must feed information into a centralized system that provides analytics for the overall customer experience, as well as every department, so that a complete picture is formed.”
Aligning the organization around the idea of holistic customer experience will give each department a focus that becomes part of a bigger strategy, rather than a single initiative that focuses on their individual contribution; because while each business sector has their own concept of customer experience, it is only when all of those visions are united that companies can deliver consistently positive interactions.
“While all departments desire to be successful, it’s crucial that they work together for the improvement of the customer’s experience and interaction with the organization,” says Houlne. “It is counterproductive if marketing runs a campaign that brings in a large number of new customers, but manufacturing is not prepared and drops the ball. That experience impacts the brand, not just the department.”
Customer Success, Not Silo Success
It’s been said before but worth stating again – a comprehensive customer journey map is crucial to an organization’s success. A customer will interact with almost every department within an organization over their entire lifecycle, and those that are not directly customer facing will be customer impacting.
“Too often we see organizations with no customer journey information or outdated information. This is a living document that requires continual updates in order to be effective,” says Houlne. “These journey maps, when done correctly, will also begin to unify silos and provide better data for every department.”
Successful CX initiatives work when they become part of an organization’s DNA. As everyone understands the importance and believes in executing toward ensuring a positive customer journey, CX becomes a mindset as much as a strategy.
“Truthfully, there are many ‘correct’ meanings of customer experience, so bringing silos together and having a leader who helps the organization embrace the overall meaning of CX is crucial,” says Houlne. “Without a high-level focus, the customer endures many roadblocks in interacting with the brand, often having to start repeatedly at square one.”
Once there is a clear picture of the customer journey and the overall CX the brand desires, then the best course of action can be determined. Until this happens, however, any departmental CX initiatives will not be as successful as possible, and many will not only fall short but also create problems for other areas of the business.
“It’s easy to think of the CX issue as one that chat bots could fix or that better sales communication might resolve,” says Houlne. “But that is silo thinking. There is no point solution that will create great customer experiences. The answer lies in how each of those areas feed the overall brand initiative and how technology, people, and/or new processes improve the overall experience.”
Today’s customer expects consistently great experiences, and compares each company with which they interact not only to their competitors, but to anyone that has ever delivered a great experience. With brands like Amazon more than happy to deliver, the time to act is now.
“A focus on comprehensive customer experience will improve revenue and retention,” says Houlne. “The good news is that the strategies do not have to be overwhelming or complex. They can be implemented through incubation one step at a time without a negative impact to the organization.”
If you are ready to take charge of your brand’s CX, start by downloading our e-book “Who Owns Customer Experience?” or contact us to learn how we utilize state-of-the-art services, including Humach Labs, to support our clients in rapidly improving CX and their bottom line.