We have already identified the problem of over communication with customers because of the wide variety of internal silos all communicating at once. But being aware of the problem is one thing, doing something about it is quite another.

So where do you start in trying to eliminate silos to ensure you become truly customer-centric as a business?

Think from your audience’s perspective

First, you need to start with your audience. Sadly, this is where many companies trip up at the first hurdle. This is because the focus of each team/department are their own objectives. These objectives are not customer focused and usually are around sales of a product or execution of a process. This leads to decisions that are solely for the company’s benefit and not the customer.

The result can lead to the complete opposite of the intention of contacting the audience. It can cause customers to leave or potential new customers to abandon before purchase. This is simply because they are fed-up of getting mixed messages and getting too many communications. If you also factor in the cost of creating the communications in the first place, the result is that many companies are actually paying to make their customers leave them! Neither the company nor their audience is winning in this current silo setup.

The issue is that it is so easily done in complex modern organisations. For example, one team sends out a communication on a great new offer for their product or service. But, this gets sent to a customer who recently purchased the same thing at the higher rate – how does this make them feel towards your company? Another team sends a prospect a communication about one product, but they have been engaging in content relating to a completely different product on the website managed by another team. How are they going to react to not being understood? All these communications had good intentions, but they should not have been sent, which business guru Jim Collins articulates well when he said. “Bad decisions made with good intentions are still bad decisions”.

Adopt an Audience Engagement Strategy

How do you utilise this new perspective into a strategy that will help break down your internal silos and make you customer-centric?

We believe the answer lies in having an effective Audience Engagement Strategy:

  1. Think about your audience: what personas do you have and what needs are they aiming to meet.
  2. Define the business goal you want your audience to reach.
  3. Build a map that provides a structured journey that relates to the psychological stages your audience needs to reach your goal.This structure gives you a defined buying journey, which has your audience at the core and allows you to create content that will fulfil the needs of your audience along each step of the journey.

Each journey contains three defined parts that span from:

1. Marketing engagement with your audience, including initial contact and providing information for your audience to research.

2. Sales engagement, which educates your audience on your product/service and takes your audience through to becoming a customer.

3. Customer engagement, where they have an ongoing experience and you can facilitate retention and cross/upsell.

It is also important to describe the people being communicated with as the ‘audience’ until they purchase something upon which they become a customer. The beauty of the three stages is that there is a consistent journey based on the buying journey of the audience and not on the selling journey of the company.

By understanding how your audience buys, you will provide the content they need to facilitate their journey. It is the creation of multiple journeys to facilitate multiple goals for multiple personas that make up your Audience Engagement strategy.

The crucial thing to note is that each defined journey allows all teams that currently communicate with the audience to see and add value to their part of the journey. They will no longer be sending out communications based on their internal needs. Each team is still using their expertise but delivering to a unified strategy. The strategy spans all teams that communicate with your audience.

However, despite all the advantages of audience journeys, there needs to be something in place to stop certain communications being sent. Some communications could still cause harm to the customer relationship, e.g. sending a recommended product email when their current product is faulty. To remedy this, implementing a customer contact strategy will help.

Implement a customer contact strategy

A good customer contact strategy sets out a clear set of rules to encompass a variety of scenarios to ensure the customer doesn’t get affected. These rules can include:

  • Only 5 communications per month
  • Never to send a discount promotion for a product/service they have purchased in the last 12 months
  • Never to email a customer with marketing if there is an open case via customer services

These are just a few examples but show the type of rules required. A good contact strategy will ensure you have the best possible relationship with your customer and stop other teams and silos accidentally contacting customers and potentially damaging the relationship.

Content, Context and Contact

In summary, an Audience Engagement Strategy allows you to create a journey that maps your audience’s buying journey. It will enable you to create interesting content to help them along this journey. At every step of the journey, each team can see where the customer is and use their functional expertise to help the audience progress further along their journey. This journey context allows much better communication with your audience to increase their likelihood to become customers. When they become customers, you then have a contact strategy in place to ensure no mistakes are made to jeopardise the relationship the entire team before you worked so hard to achieve. With this approach, you work with other internal teams instead of against them to move the customer towards a business goal. The customer receives a relevant experience that fulfils a genuine need they have, providing a positive for all.