Business silos are a fact of life, with two sides to the coin: silos empower variety, specialisation and accountability – and silos damage customer experience. The recipe for success is to minimise disconnects between silos of any kind, by taking on the customer’s viewpoint in both the strategy and tactics of managing your business.
The most common of these, are: operational silos which exist when different departments aren’t aligned; channel silos which exist when there is no consistency and interconnection between company touchpoints; and hierarchal silos which exist when employees are inhibited from communicating with their senior leaders.
Here are seven silos that are causing substantial frustration for customers, essentially leaving a lot of money on the table:
1. Systems silos
Red flags for systems silos include messages such as: “You’ll have to log-in to our other site” or “That mobile app isn’t available for the type of account you have” or “That went to the fax machine at our national site”.
In customers’ minds, this means red tape nuisances, mustering patience to understand the lack of logic, chasing things that fell into a black hole, and tiresome delays.
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Why we do this: Businesses acquire other businesses and adopt new technologies, and it takes time to consolidate or integrate.
What’s missing for the customer experience is proactive communication about what to expect, carrying the ball for the customer rather than pushing the inconvenience on them, and taking initiative to prevent black holes.
2. Data silos
The phrases that should serve as a red flag to your organisation here could include: “That’s in another database” or “thanks for being transferred to me; what is your account number and situation again?”
In customers’ minds, this means repetition, wasted time, and uncertainty.
Why we do this: Businesses capture data all along the customer life cycle, from different sources, and in various formats.
What’s missing for the customer experience is minimization of the mundane and laborious steps to get what they need.
3. Process silos
“Welcome from your dealer” and “welcome from your success manager” and similar messages from so many departments might underscore your enthusiasm for the customer, but multiple groups sending onboarding notes, or requesting survey feedback, and so forth indicate broken processes.
In customers’ minds, this means extra reading, redundant interactions, and confusion about who to go to for what, another set of things to integrate into their already busy life.
Why we do this: Businesses have many moving parts that serve customers and want customer inputs.
What’s missing for the customer experience is simplicity, with a focus on their own life/business rather than a sizable amount of their mindshare on the supplier’s business.
4. Vision silos
Different people managing different parts of the customer experience have different visions of the customer experience strategy. Information Technology’s vision may be at odds with Marketing’s vision, and so on across the C-suite. Furthermore, voice-of-the-customer managers envision survey responsiveness that maximizes referrers, while loyalty managers envision renewals that hit monthly quotas, digital marketing managers envision personalized interactions, and customer care managers envision first contact resolution.
In customers’ minds, this means enticements to behave when and how the company wants them to, and policies and requests that don’t always seem to be in their best interest.
Why we do this: Businesses have targets for growth, cost containment, and risk reduction, adjusted for each functional area.
What’s missing for the customer experience is an irrefutable feeling that their well-being comes first, when and how it best fits their objectives, as a trust-builder and precursor to organic growth, cost containment, and risk reduction.
5. Assumption silos
Different people throughout a company have different understandings of customers’ realities. Focus on survey scores rather than customer survey verbatims, journey maps narrowed to a touchpoint, and other common practices obscure an accurate big picture of the end-to-end customer life cycle.
In customers’ minds, this means inconsistent empathy for their plight, and inconsistent experience across their end-to-end journey or life cycle.
Why we do this: Businesses are busy with running the business, and it takes a concerted effort to create a common understanding across thousands of employees.
What’s missing for the customer experience is “doing the whole job” across customers’ needs and feeling valued as a long-term customer as much or more than a new customer is valued.
6. Goal silos
Customer-facing staff have customer experience goals, but staff that doesn’t interface with customers typically do not see a connection of their work to customer experience; they’re focused on productivity or other internal criteria.
In customers’ minds, this means products, processes, policies and business models that don’t always respect customers’ expectations.
Why we do this: Businesses have multiple obligations: shareholders, industry analysts, customers, and so forth. It’s easy to dilute the over-arching importance of customers as the life force of funding for all the business does.
What’s missing for the customer experience is getting things right the first time and all the time, as much as is humanly possible — preventing the need to rely so heavily on customer-facing staff and enticements.
7. Metrics silos
Performance measurement of the business may be different from performance measurements of organizations, individuals, and teams. Particularly when it comes to dashboards, incentive pay, and recognition.
In customers’ minds, this means heroics take precedence over prevention of issues, they’re directed to give a certain rating when the survey comes around, issues are resolved for individuals rather than customers collectively, and the supplier is content with industry-leading survey scores rather than resolving chronic issues once and for all.
Why we do this: Businesses measure what’s tied to goals, and odd results occur unless the goals are tied to accurate assumptions and well-founded shared vision for customer experience excellence.
What’s missing for the customer experience is prevention of issues and anticipation of their expectations and reactions.
Ultimately, the impact of these silos is company inefficiency, wasted resources, the churn of staff and customers, and a reduction in potential profitability and growth. If leaders are serious about the customer experience, and serious about the competitiveness of their companies, they need to explore how these silos can be bridged.