Silo Detectives for Organizational Collaboration


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customer experience collaborationTurf wars, personal agendas, politicking, and “not invented here” syndrome are common internal pains of organizational silos. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize them. Customers see them too! And that’s not good.

Customer Experience Impact: What customers see/hear is “that’s handled by another department” and “we had to wait for another group to do X” and “you have to go to Y to get that” and “I’ll transfer you to Z” and “we’ve known about that challenge for years with no end in sight”. All this rigmarole spells hassles for customers (and in turn, to your company). And to customers, hassles mean delays, lost productivity, extra costs, bureaucracy, busy-work, headaches, and of course, lower likelihood of recommending your brand and buying again.

Costs: That’s probably costing your company a lot! Especially when you factor-in your investments in retroactive fixes. Including customer loyalty and retention technologies and programs. If organizations in your company were more “joined at the hip”, wouldn’t that prevent a lot of the rigmarole and costs? If those were prevented, wouldn’t that be a big factor in higher likelihood of recommending your brand and buying again?

Silo Detectives Needed: Customer experience hassles are why silo detectives are needed in your business. Not to obliterate organizations, which are indeed essential to specialized knowledge and capabilities, ownership, empowerment and accountability. We need to protect these good aspects of silos in our quest to minimize the bad — particularly as seen by customers.

Greater Good: To minimize the bad for your customers — being short-sighted, self-centered, inaccessible, and inefficient — we must emphasize the win-win of cross-organizational information-sharing, empowerment and collaboration that minimizes customers’ delays and hassles. It boils down to broadening perspectives across organizations, to the greater good of: “happier customers, happier employees, lower costs, faster growth”.

Your silo detectives should seek ways to expand perspectives, motivations, collaboration and universality whenever a silo is identified.

Linchpin: Customers’ well-being is the linchpin, or the silver bullet, to customer experience success. It’s a universal interest. Everyone wants to work for a company that’s admired. And the truth is that shareholders leave when customers leave, not the other way around. Customers who sense a “hand-in-glove” feeling with your company have magnetic attraction to recommending your brand and buying again.

Engagement: This simple fact — customers’ well-being is the linchpin — gets lost all too easily. Keeping the horse before the cart is vital. Silo detectives need to plan an ongoing communications and engagement effort internally to hammer people over the head with this simple fact. In fun and constructive ways, of course.

Don’t confuse hoopla and busy-work with employee engagement in customers’ well-being. Both employees and customers will be more impressed with employee involvement in resolving chronic thorns in customers’ sides. Chronic issues typically span multiple organizations, emphasizing the dire need for organizational collaboration.

Perspectives: To get started, silo detectives should conduct a “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) analysis for all the parties involved. Stand in their shoes. What’s in it for organization A, and then for organization B. Consider their unique viewpoints, skill sets, and current circumstances. Play the what-if game: what if we do nothing versus what if we could earn that magnetic attraction? What does that tell you about WIIFM for each party?

Motivations: Conduct a motivation analysis for all the parties involved. Are extrinsic or intrinsic motivations most powerful for the personalities in-play? Identifying motivations accurately is a key to zeroing in on compelling communications and engagement efforts. Play the what-wins game: what is it that gets people ahead in this work group versus what is it that gets people in the doghouse, so to speak?

A clear understanding of what makes people tick can help you push the most constructive buttons. And sometimes it’s necessary for people to get out of denial about destructive motives in order to move forward with cross-organizational collaboration in the spirit of customers’ well-being. If “the cart” motives are trumping “the horse” motives, then you’ll be spinning your wheels.

Collaboration: Weave “customers’ well-being” awareness-building, conversations, and collaborations into existing rituals, events, and environments. Make it natural for organizations to be in-tune with customers’ realities. Make it as intriguing and easy as possible for organizations to share information with other organizations, empower employees to help one another, anticipate what’s needed, and meet together to do some heavy lifting.

Create a cadence for cross-organizational taskforces in small groups that zero-in on root issues behind chronic issues and re-visit progress for accountability in eradicating those issues as much as is humanly possible. Leverage charismatic personalities for spreading the word across entire organizations, so that your efforts are understood and supported widely and deeply. Otherwise, you’re likely to see those dandelions popping up again.

Universality: Attention to organizational silos’ effects on customers’ well-being is the foundation for compatibility of future processes, policies, attitudes, and deliverables between organizations. There’s a lot to shore-up today, but going forward, you want to build-in cross-organizational collaboration.

Conclusion: Organizations and their turf wars, etc., are a fact of life — and your silo detectives can minimize the customer experience downsides. This may be the most meaningful role of your customer experience management team. Voice-of-the-customer can be collected, retention can be marketed, recommendations can be earned — but the full potential of these investments is stymied by lack of cross-organizational collaboration. The smartest customer experience leaders will expand their silo detectives far and wide within organizations to accelerate and sustain what’s needed for customers’ well-being, that in turn, spells company growth.

This article is the second in a monthly series that will investigate silos impacting customer experience excellence. Each article in this series will explore the in’s and out’s of spanning silos for customer experience excellence.

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