Joined Up Web Requires Joined Up Organization

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Gerry McGovern, Customer Carewords

We must find a way to create a much more collaborative organization so as to better serve our customers.

The information management and the ecommerce analytics team are in the same building. Actually, they’re on the same floor. In fact, their cubicles are beside each other. But they don’t collaborate or share what they know with each other in any way.

Michelle Teufel, Global Director of Information Management at Premier Farnell explained at a conference I recently attended that it took great effort to get these two teams to work together. When they did they realized how much they could help each other, how much more effective they were working together.

This kind of scenario plays out every day within organizations. In traditional organizations it is often more beneficial career-wise for groups to compete with each other than to collaborate. They compete for resources, for budgets. They compete to achieve targets and objectives and promotions. Even if they don’t feel competitive they feel that collaboration with other groups is time consuming and ‘unproductive.’ They feel that they get things done faster if they work with their own tight group.

“The social media team think they’re stars,” a member of a web team in a large organization told me recently. “They’re the flavor of the month with management.” The web team and the social media team were competitors, and the support team was seen as a type of necessary evil. Marketing people did the cool stuff and support people did the dull stuff.

I keep hearing senior managers talk about how they need to create a more collaborative organization. They understand at an intellectual level that today collaboration drives value. For collaboration to occur we need to create a collaborative culture. We must measure and reward collaboration. Today, most organizations do the exact opposite. They measure what groups do. They incentivize people not to collaborate.

We can change this by organizing around the customer, by measuring success based on customer success. The reason we need to collaborate is because customer demands have become much more complex and customers have become more demanding. If only customers behaved in the meek, accommodating way they did forty years ago; then organizations could still maintain a system of silos and groups. But customers have moved on. Organizations have not.

We measure employees today based on units of stuff they have created and how they interact within their group. And yet each group is only part of the solution to the customer’s problem: completing tasks. We must measure success when the parts are put together, as that’s when the customer’s task is completed.

Take social media and support, for example. Often, customers end up on social media because they can’t get support or because they’ve had a bad support experience. A 2015 study by Locowise found that brands on Facebook ignore 87 percent of customers’ feedback posted directly on pages. Another study by Freshdesk and AdWeek found that 78 percent of the global top 100 brands do not respond to tweets. Of the 22 percent who did respond, it took them an average of 6 hours.

Customers with problems expect answers quickly. Even when they do get an answer they are often sent back to the exact place they came from. Disconnected groups create dysfunctional organizations and the future for such dysfunction is grim in the age of the connected customer.