Practice vs. Insanity – it’s a matter of perspective

In developing a Customer Experience strategy, it’s not the internal systems that should drive the strategy, it’s the value of the customer’s experience that should drive the internal systems.

Doing something over and over again and expecting a different result is EITHER practice, or insanity.  The only difference is your degree of patience – how long you’re willing to wait to see if anything changes.

In the same vein, sending out the same content in different channels for and thinking (read: hoping) it meets the needs of all your customer experience is equally unproductive. Meeting the customer experience expectations of today’s customer demands agility in leveraging customers’ data to deliver individualized experiences in their preferred channels.

This kind of agility requires connectivity and fluidity within an organization.

Customer Experience excellence takes a village

It takes a collection of departments and teams within an organization to deliver its customer experience promise – be that goods and/or services, and the desired brand experience, to its customers. Similarly, customers interact with organizations via multiple touchpoints spread across the entire organization. So why would any company think a single source of data from any one department or division could provide the multi-faceted, let alone complete, picture of the customer it needs?

Developing and implementing a customer-centric omni-channel experience strategy, requires insights from multiple data points – these customer experiences can only be delivered once the customer-data dots are connected. But even that is not enough. That data, all that data, also needs to be accessible by the myriad of teams that contribute to delivering the customer experience for their own analysis and interpretation.

Data fiefdoms are limiting

We’ve all heard the rhetoric of “breaking down the silos”. Many gasp and shudder at the thought of having to share the proverbial access code to the vault that contains THEIR data. Over the span of their careers employees develop areas of knowledge expertise, and maybe even fiefdoms, around particular systems and its associated data. They develop a sense of ownership. This angst of now having to share their domain is brought on by many fears; What if they (the other departments) mess up my data? What if their findings contradict my own? What if …?  What if …? What if …?

This individual apprehension can be further compounded by the larger picture of company priorities and culture. Companies invest large amounts of money in to their existing systems, and with those systems adoption come established, good or bad, procedures and policies. Once these become intrinsic to the way a company does business they are difficult to adjust. Nobody likes change, and it isn’t realistic to expect these things to change, or as some cases may deem, disappear, overnight. But who says they have to?

Permeable data silos

Rather than trying to break down and remove the invisible walls that keep core customer experience data siloed and isolated in different parts and layers of the organization, let each group keep the keys to their (data) kingdoms, and benevolently grant access to the data to other groups and department. By making the data silo walls permeable, allowing the data to flow freely to, and from, the different repositories, the company can make the most out of its investment in the technology being used to garner that information, and keep the kingdom’s (data) monarchs happy at the same time.

By building these data bridges the flow of information from one system to the other is enabled, and subsequently encouraged. And instead of collecting the same data over and over again – a better customer experience already – companies can collect it once and share between systems, in a way that respects system ownership and allows each repository to use the data in the best possible way needed to fulfill its own line of business needs and tasks.

Internal systems shouldn’t drive the customer experience; it should be the other way around.

Some might think to solve this problem companies have to first look at the systems in place collecting and storing the data. At some point yes, there are likely redundant repositories that can be sunsetted once the data landscape is better understood. For a bigger, transformational impact, companies should turn to its teams and their data-related activities. By understanding by whom and how the data is used, and agreeing to what it means, across the organization, as well as for the different teams and departments is how the value of the data is extracted.     

By creating a customer-centric perspective internally around customer-related data, organizations enable the different parts of their business to consume and analyze the data in a way that makes most sense for them, thus allowing them to have more insight into the customer, and therefore are better able to contribute to delivering an optimal customer experience.

Data driven companies that take a holistic view of their data, and develop “data journeys” that transcend internal company borders and boundaries, and that mirror their customers’ journeys, are winning the customer experience race.  

Cathy McKnight
As a founding partner of Digital Clarity Group and leader of its enterprise consulting practice, Cathy helps organizations transform the way technology can enable business strategy and performance. In her current role, Cathy has helped dozens of companies realize their digital transformation objectives. With more than 15 years of global experience and expertise in digital partners, content management, intranets, marketing technologies and customer experience, Cathy has led strategic business transformation initiatives as well as the detailed execution of enterprise technology implementations.

Prior to DCG, Cathy served at Aon Hewitt as the Innovation Lead and a Senior Associate for the Communications Consulting Team, building an innovative Web solutions practice for the company and leading communications and organizational change initiatives. As Director, Client Services at Prescient Digital Media, Cathy led a team of consultants delivering enterprise strategies and technology and agency selection projects for an array of global clients. As Senior Communications Advisor for IBM’s Global Services division, Cathy led the overall change management strategy and messaging of IBM’s values and mission to internal IGS audiences.

With her background crossing technology, emergent business trends, and change management, Cathy focuses on working with clients to bridge leadership, business process, and technology acquisition and adoption. Cathy is a frequent speaker and workshop facilitator at numerous events around the world.
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Author: Cathy McKnight
As a founding partner of Digital Clarity Group and leader of its enterprise consulting practice, Cathy helps organizations transform the way technology can enable business strategy and performance. In her current role, Cathy has helped dozens of companies realize their digital transformation objectives. With more than 15 years of global experience and expertise in digital partners, content management, intranets, marketing technologies and customer experience, Cathy has led strategic business transformation initiatives as well as the detailed execution of enterprise technology implementations. Prior to DCG, Cathy served at Aon Hewitt as the Innovation Lead and a Senior Associate for the Communications Consulting Team, building an innovative Web solutions practice for the company and leading communications and organizational change initiatives. As Director, Client Services at Prescient Digital Media, Cathy led a team of consultants delivering enterprise strategies and technology and agency selection projects for an array of global clients. As Senior Communications Advisor for IBM’s Global Services division, Cathy led the overall change management strategy and messaging of IBM’s values and mission to internal IGS audiences. With her background crossing technology, emergent business trends, and change management, Cathy focuses on working with clients to bridge leadership, business process, and technology acquisition and adoption. Cathy is a frequent speaker and workshop facilitator at numerous events around the world.

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