breaking down silos

In all but the smallest organisations, there’s a tendency for silos to develop.

This isn’t entirely a bad thing. After all, most companies rely on specialist teams to carry out key functions. Necessarily, this entails higher levels of communication within teams than between them.

While this kind of compartmentalisation is fine, all too often, it leads to a situation where teams, or different levels in a businesses hierarchy, stop communicating effectively with other parts of the business.

That’s when you have a serious problem.

The problem with silos and why they are bad for customer experience

By definition, siloing involves a failure to freely share information and ideas throughout an organisation.

This seriously hinders innovation. It also prevents management from gaining insights into the challenges facing a business and therefore, managing these effectively.

Silos are deeply incompatible with a successful CX strategy. The reason for this is that ensuring great experiences for customers at every touchpoint requires a shared, customer-centric culture across an organisation.

Looking at it from the customer or client’s perspective (as we always should), dealing with a business with entrenched silos is a total nightmare. We’ve all been there – having to explain the same issue again and again to different departments that give the distinct impression of being worlds unto themselves.

There are few things that annoy customers more.

How to break down silos once they have developed

Breaking down silos isn’t about restructuring. The key is communication.

Without a plan for ensuring information is shared between different parts of a business, a restructure will simply replace one set of silos with another.

The focus needs to be on developing a culture where every team and every level of the business, from the CEO down, works together to realise a common vision.

In my earlier blog on how to inspire the kind of cultural change needed for CX success, I suggested creating a senior position with responsibility for customer experience initiatives and improvements. Happily (and not at all coincidently), this is also a great way to break down silos.

A key responsibility of the role I’m envisaging  – ‘Customer Experience Officer’, if you will – is to champion the voice of the customer throughout the organisation. This means ensuring that every employee, no matter what their department or role, is focused on the end game of creating great experiences for customers or clients. It also involves making sure different teams are sharing information and data, and collaborating wherever possible.

Journey maps are another useful tool that can help break down silos. As well as providing invaluable insights into the way customers or clients interact with a business, they enable these insights to be shared across teams and hierarchies. This helps ensure all areas of the business, no matter how specialised, is focused on the bigger picture.

US customer service specialists CSP recommend having staff spend half a day in different teams as a way of breaking down silos. Apart from helping people get to know each other, this enables insights into what other departments really do and how their work impacts different parts of the business. Gaining a better understanding of how other areas of the business function helps staff view their own roles more holistically, encouraging a “one company” culture.

Finally, a set of authentic company values as well clearly articulated understanding of why customers or clients should buy from you, can be a terrific way to instill a sense of common purpose. It goes without saying that ‘put the customer first in everything you do’ should be at the top of the list.

Boost sales by up to 30%

At nlighten, we’ve developed an effective, tried and tested voice of customer methodology, which we’ve called ‘insights’. It’s proved to be highly effective – we’ve seen clients report sales increases by up to 30% thanks to insights. Our services are all about taking the guesswork out of managing and meeting your customers’ expectations. nlighten researchers work hard to source valuable feedback by personally connecting with your customers and asking questions designed to generate useful responses that you can act upon.