The conversation about customer experience as a business strategy continues to get lots of attention as companies struggle to figure out how to do business in a changing, consumer driven marketplace. A lot of these conversations have focused on the outward facing issues, changing marketing and sales or executing customer service in a new or improved way. These so called customer facing activities are obviously a critical part of a CX strategy, but there's a lot more. In fact I think our whole definition of "customer facing" is under attack as companies realize (or should) that a lot of activities outside of sales, marketing and customer service are just as important to delivering experiences to customers that meet expectations. Incorrectly billing for an order, delivering the wrong item or not meeting promised delivery schedules, for example, are all outside the purview of the old line customer facing organizations, but have the potential to disrupt that desired experience.
I attended and presented at the annual CRM Evolution conference last week and was drawn into these debates on CX several times. All those conversation got me thinking about the fundamentals of CX and how a strategy needs to go together. There are of course lot's of policy decisions and even more system and technology issues to deal with. The one area that seems to be getting very little attention though, is how to deal with all the internal communication issues and organizational silos that continue to plague organizations. Collaboration as a topic has been almost worn out with maybe not so much progress in a lot of companies. There was a time when I'd probably have groaned with the rest of you when someone brought up the topic, but now, I've become a "believer". Collaboration isn't a technology discussion or a strictly process or people discussion either. It's complex, which is why, I think, that so many companies have struggled with it for so long.
CX and collaboration are natural allies as a strategy and need to be addressed together. From a CX perspective you simply can't "fix" your customer issues without solving your internal organizational issues relating to collaboration and communication. Tying into the voice of the customer and using it to drive internal activities is powerful but only if you can share and work in concert. Having multiple channels of communication to customers as a part of your CX strategy is important, maybe even necessary, but if those voices / channels aren't coordinated to present consistent messages they will do much more damage than good. A lot of executing on a CX strategy will take internal coordination across current organizational silos. Can you make that a reality in your current environment... do you have the right systems in place... do you incent your people to work together... and are your processes collaborative? If you can't answer those questions positively then you will not be successful with an overall CX strategy.
What can you do to build a collaboration strategy into your overall CX strategy? Here are a few things to consider:
This only scratches the surface of course, there's a lot more. Hopefully though, you will start to think about the impact of your people and the critical role collaboration has to play in any successful CX strategy.