In the interest of customers – break down those silos

Annabel Venner, Global Brand Director at Hiscox as quoted in Marketing Week, “It’s not just about technical expertise anymore, it’s about understanding the customer experience and joining up your organisation to deliver it”.

Last week I read an article in Marketing Week which was based on a conference speech given by Easyjet CEO Carolyn McCall. It talked about how the marketer needs to build allies across the whole business. If the CMO is to own the customer experience (that’s the subject for another time) and the total customer experience touches all parts of the organisation, then this makes sense.

According to a recently published survey conducted by Econsultancy, 40% of marketers admit that they are not adequately supported by other members of their organisation and that different departments work to their own agenda. Organisation structure is also ranked as the no. 2 barrier to improving the customer experience (after the complexity and number of touch points). Fewer than 25% of organisations effectively integrate cross-functional working practices around the needs of the customer and employees.[1] What’s more very few companies can speak to customers in one voice across multiple channels and departments.

So, silos are still alive and kicking despite the move by many to a more holistic customer experience or ‘customer journey’ type approach. A survey from the American Management Association cites that 83% of executives say that silos exist in their company. Whether the silo is operational, channel or hierarchical [2], they are not conducive to customer experience excellence or a customer centric organisation. With new digital channels, ever emerging technology and changing customers’ needs and expectations, companies need to be finding ways to be more agile and flexible rather than restrictive, bound by internal bureaucracy and decisions which are sometimes (or often) detrimental to the customer experience.

My suggestions to for getting around silos:

  • There needs to be one credible and empowered owner for the customer experience whether it’s the CMO, a CXO or a COO, the point is there needs to be one person charged and accountable for making it happen across the whole organisation

  • Putting together a detailed understanding and mapping of the customer journey which involves the wider organisation in its creation, its sharing and its delivery

  • A single data view of the customer that is shared between teams - more specifically, joining up and harnessing online and offline data

  • A clear governance structure with roles and responsibilities in the delivery of the customer experience strategy including the crucial non-marketing ‘other’ departments e.g. digital, innovation, technology, customer service, call centre

  • An understanding of the inter-dependencies between departments and the impact they have on customers

  • An environment that encourages and rewards collaboration, teamwork and open communication

  • Measurement that supports the customer experience strategy and vision and importantly KPI’s that don’t conflict

It’s all well and good jumping into customer experience improvement and acting on customer feedback, but it won’t make a fundamental difference if the organisation isn’t aligned to deliver the customer experience that’s required. Companies need to find a way of establishing why and how everyone’s role is related to the customer.

We find that a valuable support to organisations is a fresh pair of eyes to hold the mirror up and show the current state of the organisation and how well it delivers Customer Experience today. This helps identify the impact of different departments on the customer experience. It not only brings objectivity to bridge those silos and viewpoints, but also leverages best practice learnings and established customer experience techniques.

In the words of Annabel Venner, Global Brand Director at Hiscox as quoted in Marketing Week, “It’s not just about technical expertise anymore, it’s about understanding the customer experience and joining up your organisation to deliver it”. Behaviour that is in the best interests of the whole organisation and the customer must be the ultimate goal. Easier said than done!

[1] Marketing Week

[2] New Voice Media