How Working in Silos Ruins Customer Experience in B2B

By Ineke de Boer

“The sales rep sold something that we do not sell.”

“The customer complained that we asked the same questions again.”

“Our Product team invents products where our customer doesn’t ask for.”

“2 employees contacted our prospect for different reasons without knowing it from each other”

“Our customer is overloaded with our email communication from different parts of our organisation”

Do these quotes sound familiar? Then you’re probably struggling with a phenomenon where a vast majority of B2B companies are struggling with as well. You’re working in silos and your customer suffers from it. You are not alone, a survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit revealed that 36% of the executives claim that silos are the biggest obstacle to deliver customer experience.

Customer experience is the sum of all interactions a customer has with your company. Customer experience isn’t only the challenge of your customer service or your marketing team. Instead, customer experience is a cross-functional challenge. Only collaboration across departments can result in qualitative customer experience.

The typical behaviour of building out functional teams, giving each team functional goals and asking them to report up to a CEO or COO drives the behaviour to work in silos. If marketing needs to generate leads, sales needs to close orders and service needs to answer customer questions within SLA they will do so without taking into account the overall customer journey or customer experience.

If you do not motivate your teams to collaborate they will not step out of the silos that are created in your organisation. So how do you fight your silos? You can improve customer experience by creating links to connect the silos or by flatting the silos.

Create strong links that connect your silos:

  • Clearly define the functions of each silo and how they should collaborate to boost customer experience. Make the value of every role throughout the customer journey visible within the entire organisation. Do not assume that employees understand the function and added value of other silos.
  • Create temporarily cross-functional account teams with cross functional team goals. A great example are cross-functional key account teams. A business development rep, a sales rep, and a service agent have the same goal to grow the account by making him/her successful.
  • Create and empower shared service centers that drive cross-functional customer experience improvement projects. A business operations team or a sales enablement team are good examples of these shared service centers. If you let these functions report to the director of a silo they will do improvement projects for that silo, if you let these functions report higher they will drive improvement projects on a higher level.
  • Bring people with different functions together to brainstorm, learn and have fun together. Role-specific team buildings will create role-specific teams. mixed team buildings will foster collaboration across teams. Cross-functional training can be an eye-opener because employees start to see the bigger picture of the customer journey.
  • Create a customer experience network of people within your different silos and let them drive the change in behaviour together with your managers. People are more likely to copy behaviour from a peer.

Or just flatten the silos:

  • Make your company less hierarchical. The more management layers you have without connection to the other silos the less collaboration you’ll stimulate because teams are further away from each other in the organisation chart.

Or combine all the above.

Your customer experience sucks because of silos, let’s talk!

Author, Ineke de Boer is Sales Enablement Manager at Showpad 

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