Building a business case to break down the communications silos requires a clear understanding of the business benefits and a considerable amount of internal alignment of different functions. While both are obvious points, they also pose significant challenges. To a degree, it is the challenging nature of building the business case and attempting to align differing functions that explains why these internal communications silos exist.
The principal communications silos that need to be addressed are whichever functions have responsibility for communicating with customers. In many organisations, this will involve multiple departments and even sub-functions within departments.
These departments are undertaking customer communications as an intrinsic part of their function and to meet their departmental objectives and KPIs. As stated in other articles on this subject, companies give little thought to the impact on the customer of this dysfunctional and uncoordinated approach to communicating with the customer.
Logic therefore dictates that understanding the impact upon the customer of communications silos is the logical place to start.
What to analyse?
Below, I summarise the factors you will need to analyse:
1. Sentiment – what is the contribution to negative brand sentiment (e.g. NPS) from poorly targeted and irrelevant communications that are commonly caused by communications silos?
2. Action – how much the over communication causes opt out by customers?
3. Missed opportunities – to what degree are you missing out on new business opportunities (new customer acquisition, as well as cross sell and up sell to existing customers)?
4. Customer experience – how is the customer experience being affected by communication silos? Does one part of the business make a promise not fulfilled when the customer communicates with another part of the business?
5. Regulatory complaint – if applicable, are contraventions of regulatory rules and guidelines being caused by comms silos?
Data is always a challenge
Identifying the most effective approach for uncovering this information will depend on your budget and resource. Clearly, research and analysis are required, and it is unlikely that you will have the raw data to hand already that will provide the answers to these questions.
However, from this data, you can start building the business case. In doing so, there are several other factors that need to be considered. The first is, of course, the commercial impact of a robust customer-centric communications strategy. The data from the customer impact analysis will inform a lot of this. However, there are other factors to consider that will provide commercial benefit through improved sales conversion.
To understand what this looks like, you first need to take a step back from simply considering communications silos as a problem. Instead, consider the customer engagement benefits from creating joined-up communications through the target audience’s actual buying journey.
Buyer Journey Mapping
By mapping the true customer journey from initial engagement through to purchase and then to ongoing customer relationship, you will increase sales conversions. You will also increase your opportunity for cross/up sell. And you will improve the cost-benefit ratio of your communications because, by being more relevant, engagement levels will increase – e.g. open rates of e-mails will improve.
The second factor that needs to be considered when building the business case is imperative in the world of KPIs. By being able to align communications across all business functions, it will be possible to understand the attribution to sale of each business function. Marketers can measure and analyse each stage of the journey. This means there is full marketing attribution to sale.
It is also for this reason that marketing can commercially measure the investment made into content marketing.
The final factor to consider is the potential ability to improve forecasting capabilities.
For project costs, the most effective route to choose is one that aligns the communications silos rather than one that seeks to integrate them. By aligning the comms silos, you do not need to rip and replace any of the existing systems and structures that you have in place. To do so would, of course, involve enormous cost and upheaval.
Alignment involves understanding that behind every communication lies content and contact. Starting with mapping out the buyer’s journey in relation to the content that is required at every step of the audience’s journey towards your commercial goals. You can then pass forward information on that content consumption to the next department. By doing so, the silo still exists from an organisational perspective, but not from the audience’s perspective. The organisation now has a ‘memory’ of the communications engagement it has had with the target audience – be it a prospective or existing customer.
A robust contact strategy supports this approach by ensuring that your target audiences are receiving appropriate volumes and types of communications that support their journeys rather than simply your conversion goals.
This does, of course, mean that your organisation will have to embrace the core tenets of customer-centricity. You can only achieve resolution of these issues and the negative impact on the customer’s experience with this sort of approach.
The net result will be a robust, commercially driven business case. However, achieving internal agreement is usually the most formidable challenge given the range of business functions affected.