Whose Customer Experience Is It Anyway?

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In the enterprise, there's a dirty little word—silo. When various lines of business, be they sales, marketing, or public relations, have contradicting plans, the results can be disastrous. By the time mangled messages hit the front lines, they are hugely accentuated, and often the contact center is left holding the bag. Agents are confused, customers are angry, and ultimately brands suffer. When multichannel operations are factored in, things can get even messier.

Nancy Porte, vice president of global customer experience at Verint, believes that organizations must break down the barriers between siloed functions across the customer experience value chain. "[They need] to capture, analyze, and act on cross-functional information concerning customer interactions and the customer experience process," she says.

Kathy Juve, chief marketing officer at [24]7, agrees. "Enterprises have a tremendous challenge because they are mired in siloed legacy infrastructures for each channel. The different perspectives of teams are caused by the different channel infrastructure that the teams support. These teams often blur lines and try to boil the ocean when it comes to customer experience initiatives."

It All Begins at the Top

Leadership plays a critical role in any business, and providing excellent customer experiences requires active participation from the C-suite, senior-level executives, or someone in authority who can span and impact each department.

"You have to have a strong desire to excel at customer service starting from the C-level," says Sean Hawkins, manager of technical support and support engineering at iContact. "They control the company, and if they're serious about offering a great customer experience, then it will flow down."

Scott Hays, senior director of product marketing at Kana, believes that many departments haven't joined together because they haven't been given instructions from top management to look at the whole customer experience.

"They've been given directives based on only part of the picture of who the customer is and how the customer concerns them," he says. "Sometimes, on an informal level, teams have to be willing to say that they know they need to work together or they're going to lose customers."

For those in leadership positions, key considerations should include what the company's attitude is toward its customers, and what expenditures need to be made to improve the customer experience, says Hays. "You need to look at 'What does our brand mean to customers?' You also should figure out what kind of investments you're going to make. Some of this doesn't come without costs, but many of those costs can be recouped."

Multichannel Miscommunication

As if it weren't challenging enough to deliver a successful customer experience across teams, adding multichannel operations to the mix can result in further miscues. "If 

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Posted September 23, 2014