In business terms, silos are departments, sections, or units of operation that function using different technology, data, and processes within the same company or organization. Usually, they are all kept separate and do not cross over each other at all. This disconnected approach has been a very common practice within organizations until now.
With the increase of digital consumers entering a business from various channels, silos are starting to cause issues for consumer service. Therefore, to retain people, it is becoming increasingly important to break down silos and deliver a more omnichannel experience.
How Do Silos Affect Brands and Companies
While silos can increase independence and accountability within departments, it’s important not to overstate their advantages. Particularly in this day and age, their disadvantages for businesses are far greater as they affect brands and companies more negatively than ever before. They create an entirely disconnected organizational culture, which can make interdepartmental processes very inefficient and costly.
For example, when working in silos, employees tend to only think about ways to uplift and improve their own sections of the business. This means a few things. First, it means that each section of the business will have different end goals – resulting in incoherence across the organization. It also means that employees across departments are less likely to join forces and collaborate.
Additionally, there is often little to no communication between departments. This can lead to the same task being done multiple times, further resulting in lost time and money.
Perhaps more importantly, the lack of communication and coherence across the company leads to inconsistency in dealing with consumers.
How Silos Affect Consumers
As mentioned above, a siloed company presents consumers with inconsistent service. Digitally native consumers (which are on the rise) expect seamless service, good communication and assistance,
clear and coherent responses no matter what platform they use to connect with the organization.
This expectation cannot be met via the ongoing use of silos. For example, it would be difficult for an employee in consumer service to assist a consumer who has a complaint about the marketing department.
This is because these departments’ would be completely separate and disconnected. They could easily give the consumer differing advice or information. As a result, the customer will only get frustrated and take their business elsewhere in the future.
According to research from Zendesk, around 80% of businesses experience consumer churn, if they are not provided with a satisfactory consumer experience.
What Is an Omnichannel Experience
To rectify the issues caused by a siloed company, many turn toward the omnichannel route. According to a 2020 Retailing report by PwC, companies investing in omnichannel experiences increased from 20% to over 80%. But what exactly is an omnichannel experience?
Essentially, it is a strategy that is used across all channels to ensure a unified customer experience. Rather than having each department work as a separate entity, an omnichannel approach sees that all departments collaborate with each other. They all become integrated.
For example, it ensures that the online team and as well as the brick-and-mortar store provide consumers with the same information.
This enhances consistency so that organizations can deliver quality consumer service across all channels.
Breaking Down Silos Through Omnichannel Consumer Experience
Due to the evolving behaviors of consumers, a good omnichannel consumer experience is essential. According to the Harvard Business Review, omnichannel customers are more valuable to businesses. The report found that omnichannel consumers spent about 4% more when shopping in stores and 10% more while shopping online.
These consumers may begin their shopping journey through one channel and complete it through another. If the experience and information provided via different channels are inconsistent, the sale might be lost. Therefore, it is essential to break down silos that may cause this inconsistency.
Here are some ways to facilitate the removal of silos from your organization.
Understand the mutual mission and priorities
Start by recentering the focus of all departments to ensure they all start working toward the same goal. Each section of the business must understand what the goal is, and that it is a mutual goal for all departments. Further, everyone must understand what role they play in reaching the end goal.
This will allow each department to see that they are all cogs in the same machine thereby enhancing cooperation.
To achieve this, there needs to be transparent communication, progress reports, dashboards, and software or diagrams that show how every department fits together.
Image source: LoginRadius
Prioritize experience with consumers
By centering the focus of each department onto consumers and their experiences, you set everyone on the same path. When each department understands each other’s responsibilities toward consumers, they are more likely to collaborate and provide support when needed.
Meet with each team and explain to them how a lack of collaboration will affect the company through ineffective consumer service. Allow everyone to have suggestions about how to streamline the process of collaboration so that everyone feels heard. This is the best way to get everyone on board.
Assign individuals to serve as liaisons through departments
Find employees who can be mediators. These employees will facilitate the integration and cooperation between departments. Different departments will be more likely to trust them as they are not directly from one department or another. Rather, they are independent individuals who ensure that things run smoothly across all departments.
These mediators could, for example, run meetings to discuss the progress of collaborative efforts across departments. This will aid the building of relationships between these departments so that they can work together more seamlessly.
Make specific inventory a priority
Ensure that your product inventory information is the same, online and offline. This means that your store’s online and offline departments should work from the same database of inventory information.
By doing this, you ensure that consumers do not go through an entire process of shopping online, entering their details, and confirming payment, only to find out that a product is not in stock.
Unity across all storefronts, whether it be on an ecommerce or retail website, in a physical store, or on an app, is essential for a smooth consumer experience.
Allow use of data from clients
Build profiles of your consumers using the information and feedback they provide you with. A good way to manage this information is with a solid Consumer Relationship Management platform.
By creating a definition of your consumers, you can start to understand their needs better. Through this, you can discover which areas of consumer service are more important to focus on, where to target certain products and services, and how to give your consumers the best experience.
Conduct cross-functional instruction at all levels for employees
To foster further collaboration between different departments and various individual employees, it is useful to train employees in skills from other departments. Having cross-functional teams at all levels allows your employees to work better together and provide consistent support.
Breaking down silos is an essential step if you want to deliver an omnichannel experience. It impacts consumer experience and retention in the long run.
So, ensure that your organization does not fall behind due to the unwillingness to transform and adapt to the current consumer landscape. Remove silos from your organization and see how quickly things start to grow!