I’ve been writing and speaking about uniting the C-Suite — i.e. uniting the silos, metrics, and accountability measures of various teams — for years. I mention it frequently in my books, I’ve blogged about it, and all of my 69 guests so far on my customer experience podcast have spoken about the same concept. Getting companies and leaders to understand the importance of thinking holistically instead of channel-by-channel is a great joy of my career.
Another joy: increasingly, more and more people are realizing this.
This article — “Customer Experience: Are Silos Still Tripping You Up?” — recently ran on AdAge. This section summarizes the challenge and the (relatively) simple solution:
For example, some companies today spend far too much time, money and effort creating great content that their customers and prospects will find useful and appealing—but often it’s not served up to them at the right time because the business unit that developed it does not own the touch points where customers would find the content most useful. That means the valuable content you’ve created is stuck in a single silo because you don’t have the integrated systems, processes and organization structures to enable fast and easy deployment across channels. When your technology and systems are set up to support this integration, the customer gets what they need at the right time. It really can be that simple.
Most of my podcast guests have noted that as an issue when they first assumed a CCO/SVP role.
If we know the problem is silos and silo thinking, why is it so hard to change for more effective customer experience?
Well, in one way it’s not. Hundreds of companies are doing it effectively, if not thousands.
But in the ones where it hasn’t happened yet, the issue is largely psychological.
Silos give us comfort. They establish a work in-group and out-group for our brains. In-group vs. out-group is an extremely powerful way to organize information. (Not necessarily effective in a work context, but nonetheless powerful.)
Silos also make it clear what our individual (and team) incentives are. People want to know that. Of course, oftentimes the incentives between silos are set up in a way that can’t encourage true collaboration. That’s a deeper problem we can address in a later post.
Fighting against silos is a challenge. It’s a pervasive mentality.
But technology can help. An end-to-end system spanning the enterprise can be developed. There will be potholes along that road, of course. People will feel their perch is being threatened. Other priorities will crop up.
The consistent answer to drawbacks should be:
“If we do this right by the customer, it’s going to benefit all of us in terms of revenue growth and increased opportunities and incentives.”
The soundest strategy in a world of choice overload is strong (and consistent) customer experience. The clearest path to that is by uniting the silos.