A few weeks ago, I wrote about the need to hide the seams in customer experiences. In this post, I suggested that one of the primary causes of these unseemly seams is the way companies are organized: our functional orientations show through in often conspicuous, sometimes clumsy ways.
But, of course, it’s more than how we’re organized. Underlying these functional orientations are systems that often only serve to perpetuate and harden these artificial boundaries.
Customer experience, after all, is the sum of each and every branded experience, pre and post sales. Therefore, the service of these experiences falls to a series of cross-functional organizations supported by at least four distinct systems of record:
- Digital marketing hubs—to target and personalize digital experiences
- Sales data and process—to run the revenue machine
- Service and support desk—to track, manage and disposition issues and incidents
- ERP—to manage inventory, orders and supporting operations
If we truly want to erase the seams between channels and experiences, these systems of record should become decidedly less distinct. Customer data and voice should be shared and orchestration paths and workflows should be connected and coordinated via a unified hub.
I’m not suggesting a single monolithic uberhub, but rather one logical hub that’s supported by a federated assemblage of integrated components. What I’m describing is a framework, not something you buy off the shelf.
The reality is that, while customer experiences are defined horizontally, they’re executed vertically through the separations of duty found in our functional organizations—and, let’s face it, our frequently provincial orientations. Like it or not, that’s the state of the complex enterprise.
Erasing the seams between channels and experiences is about thinking horizontally as we execute vertically—and creating the connective tissue to hide the seams.
This is achieved, unsurprisingly, through a combination of people, process and technology. Customer experience is a team sport that depends on cross-functional leaders and frontlines employees aligned to the same customer-centric goals. It depends on horizontal business processes that cut across these vertical functions.
But it’s also a systems design issue. Sometimes, despite our best efforts and intentions, these systems simply get in the way. They reinforce the vertical boundaries we seek to erase. That’s because these systems are purpose-built for the enterprise first, the customer second.
The solution is a combination of systems integration and, crucially, commercial product design that gets it right in the first place. Vendors need to evolve their thinking beyond their own functional boundaries to the role they play as contributors to a unified customer experience.