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How Customer Engagement Silos are Holding You Back (And How to Fix It)

March 15, 2017

By Sherice Jacob

old-sony-devices

Silos are a relic from a bygone age — when “customer experience” as we know it didn’t exist and top-down communication was the norm. Back then, it was easy to work within a self-contained departmental bubble – brainstorming, collaborating and ultimately crafting something you thought the customer would enjoy based on what your department had gathered about them.

You may think that silos only exist in smaller companies – but history tells us that even large corporations can be plagued by these customer experience fossils:

Making a Mess of Music

Sony is the perfect example of how silos can wreck a customer experience. Back in 1999, Sony made an announcement that was going to change the way we experienced music. They were releasing a new, digital Walkman.

This was a full two years before the iPod would come to dominate the industry, and just a few months before the very first MP3 player was released. Here, Sony was demonstrating that it planned to embrace the internet and all the benefits of digital technology, and customers were excited about the potential that awaited them.

But then, enthusiasm started to wane when they announced not one, but three different music players. There was the Network Walkman, a device that used a flash memory stick to hold data and could only play music files with Sony’s proprietary ATRAC format. There was also the Vaio Musiclip, a cigar-sized, pen-like device that could hold two hours of music. Then there was the memory stick Walkman.

Three different devices to serve a single purpose.

Nevermind that there were already devices on the market that could hold hundreds of megabytes of music and used the much more popular mp3 format. Sony’s problem was that it was plagued by the customer experience silo – different departments all designing their own solutions to overtake the music industry and all of them competing with each other.

Even now in 2017, we can look back and see what happened. Sony’s innovative foothold on the music player market crumbled significantly — overtaken by Apple and other devices.

Why Customer Experience Silos Exist

According to research from New Voice Media, 41% of customer experience professionals say that operational silos are holding back the customer experience significantly. Operational silos are a traditional means of organizing a business — people segmented into different departments and roles based on their skill-sets.

According to Tim Packard, the CMO at New Voice Media, “operational silos encourage behavior that is beneficial to those within the silo, but often not in the best interests of the organization as a whole — or to customers.”

He continues, “[a]s a result, office politics develop, as the teams and departments compete more with each other than they do with competitors. Collaboration becomes a rarity, decision-making becomes poor, and teams become inward-looking.”

And, in cases like Sony, the bigger a company becomes, the more distant it becomes from its customers. It’s the difference between going down to your local deli to order your favorite sandwich, and having it prepared just the way …read more

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