Busting Up Those Pesky Organizational Silos

The challenges of silo-busting can make addressing the problem confounding to even the savviest of organizational leaders. But here’s how to do it.

Customer experience success demands cross-functional collaboration from leaders in marketing, sales, product, service and more. And customer experience leaders often report the biggest challenge in delivering results is the silos in their organizations.

Silos show up not just in organizational structure, but also in the ways data is housed, how technology is implemented and the way permissions prevent visibility into the customer journey. All these silos disrupt the customer’s experience, leading to unfulfilled promises and customer frustration.

Poor customer experiences lead to poor business outcomes like declining retention rates, increased service costs and poor word-of-mouth marketing. Silo-busting should be in the job description of not just customer experience leaders, but leaders throughout the organization. Yet it’s often not addressed even by the savviest C-Suite executives.

Why Is Silo-Busting so Challenging? 

Leaders in today’s workplace are often asked to, frankly, “stay in their lane.” Teams are encouraged to solve problems specific to their operations and processes. It’s rare to see leaders reviewing issues from the holistic view of the customers and their journeys.

But when silos get in the way, everyone loses. Customers feel neglected. Data is ignored. Employees are frustrated. And, ultimately, business results suffer.

Let’s take a look at common areas where silos prevent success and what to do about them.

A Lack of Communication Creates Silos

Marketing makes promises based on the knowledge of what’s coming up for customers. Sales is pressured to make the sale. And customer service is left answering to customers who feel like they’re on a rocky journey.

If we ask leaders to put their heads down and stay in their lanes, we’re asking for trouble. 

One common missing piece is a universal description of customer experience success. It’s not enough to tell leaders to simply be customer-centric or announce a goal of “exceeding customer expectations” when those well-intentioned goals are not defined with meaningful definitions and metrics for success. 

Cross-functional communication is much easier when leaders all agree on a universal goal. If collaboration and stepping out of one’s lane will create better outcomes for everyone, leaders are more likely to feel empowered in both reaching out and receiving communication around these shared goals.

The good news is that when teams do collaborate, everyone wins. CX teams that collaborate cross functionally are 27% more likely to have a high or very high return on investment (ROI) in their CX program, according to the 2022 State of CX Report from GetFeedback.

Related Article: Building a Gold Standard for Consumer Trust

Data Silos Make Everything More Difficult

This might be the biggest challenge most organizations have. Centralizing customer data and aligning it with operational data is critical in delivering personalized experiences.

Customers use the chat feature online. Then they get frustrated and call the customer service number. They don’t want to be greeted with “What can we do for you today?” They want their journey to be seen and understood so they can receive proactive, personalized support. 

Unfortunately, data silos mean contact center agents and other frontline employees are left with little or no customer data visibility. Consider how many agents don’t have customer data because it’s housed in a different part of the organization. While they should have access to customers’ past purchases or most recent service interactions, they should also see any overall feedback metrics the customer has provided. This more complete view of the customer helps the brand provide better service and in turn increases the likelihood of retaining the customer.

Customers tell us they expect personalization now. According to a report from McKinsey & Company, a large majority (71%) of consumers expect personalization. The only way to deliver this is by strategically connecting customer data and providing visibility to those who need it at the right time.

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