Customer communications silos are commonplace within nearly every business. For large businesses there is no getting away from the fact that the natural evolution of the various business structures and processes has led to different parts of the business communicating with customers and, for that matter, prospective customers. However, those communications are rarely co-ordinated.
So let’s be clear on what we mean by a customer communications silo. It is when any individual part of the business is communicating with a customer without a centralised strategy for that communication. Typical examples include marketing, contact centres, digital and billing. All such functions communicate with customers, typically without any reference to each other. It is also worth noting that such silos can exist within departments as well. For example, marketing is often split into various different functions – such as brand marketing, PR, social, outbound marketing, etc. – and more often than not such customer comms are only co-ordinated when a specific campaign requires it to be done rather than in a sustained, strategic manner.
The solution is a centralised strategy. This involves the co-ordination of both the content being used with customers and the contact strategy that ensures that the content is relevant and appropriate to the customers that receive it. Few such centralised strategies exist.
Now put yourself in your customer’s shoes. You are one company operating under a single brand. Your customer really, really does not care about how you are structured internally. What they do care about is that any communication they receive from you is right for them. To be right it must firstly be relevant both for their needs and in relation to the products and services they receive from you already. Secondly it must be contextually accurate. If I, as your customer, have just had a bad experience I will not look kindly upon you as a company if you send me some promotional material for your latest product or service. Sadly most companies fall foul of this most of the time.
As companies seek to become more customer-centric, such communications silos suddenly start to become a real issue. You cannot claim to be customer-centric when such silos exist because fundamentally you are letting the way you communicate with customers be dictated by your internal structures and processes. Instead, you need to think about the customer experience and how to meet their needs better through the communications you send them.
Put simply, stop trying to sell to segments and start trying to meet your individual customer’s needs. It is the dehumanised target driven culture within businesses that has led to such detrimental customer communications silos existing.