three people looking at a physical map together
PHOTO: Sebastian Herrmann | unsplash

We recently looked at expectations for 2022 and how a focus on multi-channel, end-to-end, frictionless customer experiences will be key. Adhering to the following best practices across the development cycle will ensure a superb experience:

  • Plan and decide how you will measure success
  • Design and gather user feedback early and often
  • Implement
  • Test and gather user feedback iteratively during development
  • Continue to gather user feedback across the entire customer journey

What can a company do — in addition to following these best practices — to achieve success?

When Building Customer Experience, Collaboration Is Key

Multi-channel customer experiences are complex. They consist of a set of digital applications that may include mobile, web and chat applications. Additionally, there are non-digital or not purely digital touch points, such as live agent customer service, exposure to branding and email marketing. All touch points need to be considered to see the holistic customer journey experience.

In other words: every part of the organization that works on any piece of the customer journey must collaborate.

Think about how challenging it can be to communicate and collaborate with product, user experience (UX), development and testing teams on a single application. Teams are large, and the corporate structure often creates silos. Now amplify that to several digital properties as well as other departments such as customer service. You quickly realize how overwhelming the level of complexity in communication and collaboration can be.

Yet no brand will be successful at creating superb experiences unless all departments work together.

To answer this challenge, some organizations decide on a restructure that is more hierarchical in nature to reduce the number of silos. Unfortunately, introducing additional hierarchy introduces its own type of friction. Employees often object: some feel a loss of independence and decision making power, and are concerned that their work is viewed as less important, since they now report to someone who was previously a peer.

Another way is to keep the current structure in place, and to form a cross-functional and cross-organizational committee consisting of customer experience (CX) ambassadors. For instance, every organization or large team appoints a CX ambassador to join the committee. That ambassador represents the team in the committee and shares information from the committee with their team.

The upside to this approach is it brings people together cross-functionally. The downside is there's the risk that only the ambassadors truly immerse themselves in the CX mindset. This can definitely happen if these types of committees are prevalent. It’s conceivable that a small team could be overwhelmed with participation in committees and workforces, to the point where they divide and conquer. Each team member takes on being part of a committee, yet everyone is stretched so thin that there aren’t any cycles available to share information within the team. In this case, you end up with one expert who is a silo within their team. This is not ideal by any measure.

At the end of the day, no organizational construct is perfect. The decision on how to collaborate in the best way possible will depend on the size of the company, the size of the teams, and the current organizational structure.

Related Article: A Holistic Customer Experience Means Saying Goodbye to Siloed Thinking

A Customer-Centric Mindset

The goal of collaboration, and the reason why silos are so deadly, is to have every employee think and act with the customer in mind. What we’re really looking for is a mindset, where every decision and every action is taken with the customer in mind. This is a process, as it will be new to some in the organization. A key method to get there is to raise awareness.

There are many ways to increase awareness. For instance, every new employee should get a chance to use the product or solutions a company sells, to the extent that this is feasible. Nothing beats having experienced something yourself.

Another option is to create visually appealing customer journeys maps, and share those with the organization. Where (and when) employees can collaborate in person, put poster-size copies of the customer journeys on the walls. While this is trickier in virtual environments, use your imagination. Create a meeting background with a journey map on it, as that is sure to spark some conversation. Or walk through one journey map at the start of each weekly or monthly department meeting.

Related Article: Are UX and CX One and the Same?

It Starts From the Top

None of the above is possible without executive buy-in. A thoughtful, comprehensive approach to structures for collaboration is something that needs to be considered by the executive team  in order to see the entire picture — and it needs to be driven by them, too, in order to be enforced.