Uniting Your Company Around the Voice of the Customer
It’s hard to open your business press app (remember when this was in print?) without reading about companies “breaking down the business silos.” But what does that really mean…and is there substance beyond the hype?
In a word, absolutely. Breaking down silos allows you to move beyond the bureaucracies, policies, and inflexible processes that hinder collaboration and innovation. This paves the way for that special kind of magic that happens when everyone in an organization is in regular communication—the product team talks to the support team, so they understand the biggest pain points and feature requests; marketing talks to product, so they know how to accurately position the upcoming product launch; support talks to marketing, so content accurately reflects and addresses the biggest challenges that customers are facing...and everyone, company-wide, is on board with what the customers are saying and asking for. With the right systems in place, this communication happens organically, transparently, and constantly.
Breaking down the business silos to become a more collaborative, customer-centric organization takes intention and effort, but it’s not a mysterious process. There are five simple steps you can take to break down those silos once and for all:
1. 1) Define Your Goals
Are you trying to better meet the needs of today’s social customers? Build a more collaborative company culture? Differentiate yourself amongst competitors? There are any number of reasons you might want to create a more open company structure, but unless you’re sure what they are, you won’t be able to articulate them, much less accomplish them.
It’s not enough just to know what your goals are. You also want to be explicit about how you’re going to define success. Breaking down business silos is not as concrete as increasing first-call resolution or generating more leads. Success metrics might be as simple as X number of customer ideas implemented, or X number of departments responding to questions in the customer community in any given week (indicating more multi-department cooperation). Understanding how you will define success and which metrics you need to track from the beginning will be crucial to achieving the results you’re after.
2. Obtain Stakeholder Buy-In
Some companies intuitively understand the benefits of building a more collaborative company culture. At others, it’s less clear. Identify the key stakeholders needed to put your plan into action—product, support, and marketing team leads, the person or team who will man the technology you select as the catalyst for the change (usually some mix of support, marketing, or customer experience), etc.
Plainly lay out the goals you defined in step 1 as well as expected benefits and metrics you’ll be measuring to define success. Some benefits you can reference:
- Serendipitous collaboration and innovation
- Creation of a Voice of the Customer culture—listening, acting, and closing the loop with customers become systematic
- The ability to serve your customers better by providing them access to the expertise of relevant employees from across your company (not just support)
- Stronger, more unified company culture
- The ability to identify, respond to, and fix issues more quickly
- Differentiation from competitors
3. Community to Unite the Company around the Voice of the Customer
In order to break down the business silos in your organization, you’re going to need a catalyst to spark the change you’re trying to create. Your customers are a great focal point that your company can rally around, and a customer community brings their voice front and center.
Communities have evolved from the forums of the 90’s. They are modern conversation platforms that help companies connect with their customers, resolve their issues, and capture their content for support, marketing, and feedback. Look for a platform that’s easy-to-use and friendly, so employees and customers feel comfortable getting involved.
Identify who will own the community, but make sure you provide training and incentives to bring others in to help with community management as well. Which brings us to our next step…
There is never just one way to solve a business problem. That is the beauty of breaking down the silos—it allows everyone in your company to collaborate around identifying and solving problems. This makes companies stronger, and allows them to create better products and service in the process. Customers can tell when they’re truly at the center of your business. In today’s social economy, they will reward you by telling their friends.
About Get Satisfaction
Based in San Francisco, Get Satisfaction provides an online community platform connecting companies with customers to foster relationships that unlock new value for both sides. Companies of all sizes and industries—from Kellogg’s, P&G and Intuit to Sonos, and SugarCRM—rely on Get Satisfaction to deliver online communities that modernize customer support, accelerate sales, differentiate their brand and inspire new innovations. Get Satisfaction’s community platform offers the fastest time to value for companies ready to embrace the way today’s customers want to engage.