How to overcome organizational silos – Customer Experience Councils

Customer Experience Councils

We all know a lack of coordination between an organization’s departments can be one of the key factors in causing a poor Customer Experience. As an end to end Customer Experience touches many parts of the organization this is one of the key challenges an organization faces.

I always remember speaking, a number of years ago, on the same platform as Tom Peters. I always remember Tom saying ‘any organization of over five people is too big’. Clearly this was an intended exaggeration but his point was sound. When you get more than 5 people complications set in. Lack of communications, politics, etc. People are tribal. Sales don’t like Marketing and vice versa. Operations think they do the real work, everyone hates Finance! People are naturally very focused on their own department, their own problems, their own job and their own status….don’t even get me started on company politics! Whilst most people will be mildly interested in the problems other parts of the organizations are having, they are totally focussed on what affects them. Therefore, one of the key issues to drive a great Customer Experience is the need for organizational alignment. Aligning the measures, actions, focus, etc is critical. But whose job is it to do this? Who looks at the overall experience of the Customer?

I am sure you have heard of the role of Chief Customer Officer and clearly there are many Customer Experience teams now. I don’t intend going into these roles but suffice it to say, it is vital for any organization trying to improve their overall experience to have someone who has the responsibility and authority to do so. They must then establish a mechanism and infrastructure where the review of the total end to end experience can take place. Without this the experience will be uncoordinated and will incur additional costs.

As one of the very first dedicated Customer Experience Consultancies in the world we have seen many methods being deployed over our ten years. The best mechanism we have found is to establish regular ‘Customer Experience Councils’. The purpose of these councils is to bring together key people across the organization to review the ‘end to end’ experience.

One of our clients, Maersk Line, one of the world’s largest container shipping companies, at our recommendation implemented these Councils across their global operation. They now have a Customer Experience Council in their 55 regions around the world and one central Council to coordinate activity. This infrastructure helps them coordinate activity for their 1.9m Customers and 25,000 employees. The results? Clearly the Customer Experience Councils have been just one part of an overall solution that we have been working with them on but Maersk Line have improved their Net Promoter score by 40 points in 30 months. A fantastic achievement! Forrester were so impressed they wrote a case study on this. See here.

We are conducting a webinar with Maersk Line on June 21st 2012. Register please:

For our case study please click here. What does a Customer Experience council look like? Ideally this is chaired by the Chief Customer Officer, or the leader of the CE team.

The objective of a Customer Experience Council is:

  1. Bring together all departments who impact the Customer Experience
  2. Work as a team to improve the end to end Customer Experience
  3. Ensure everyone understands the inter-dependencies between departments and the effect on the customers experience
  4. Identify gaps and overlaps
  5. Ensure everyone is creating the desired experience.
  6. Review Customer data and measures when making decisions to improve the experience
  7. Prioritize activity

Who should attend?
Any part of the organization that affects the Customer, including outsourced suppliers.
In terms of personnel, this should be attended by people senior enough to make decisions and stick by them. They need to be able to understand the issues and understand the implications of any decisions being made.

What type of issues should be discussed?

  1. Understand and record the end to end journey of a Customer not the organizations process
  2. How the organization is performing against their Customer measures.
  3. How to align measures
  4. What can be done to improve the Customer Experience
  5. How the individual departments are performing against their Customer measures
  6. Deciding on initiatives to improve the Customer Experience
  7. Prioritizing activity
  8. What is best practice?

Typical Agenda:

  1. Actions from last meeting
  2. Results of overall Customer satisfaction measures
  3. Reports from the various departments on their Customer Satisfaction measures and what they are doing to improve the Customer Experience
  4. Ensuring best practices are being cross fertilized
  5. Review of current initiatives/programs
  6. Review Customer measures
  7. Prioritization and planning of future initiatives
  8. Review of any Customer research taken place
  9. AOB

By stabilizing this process people start to see the whole Customer journey and realize the impact they are having on the overall experience of the Customer. Through the right measurement, overlaps and gaps can be identified and opportunities to improve the experience can be worked on. Finally, it is a signal to the rest of the organization that the Customer Experience is important.

We would highly recommend that all organizations implement this type of structure. It is not the entire answer by any means but goes a long way to being part of the solution.

Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four best-selling books. Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from offices in Atlanta, Georgia and London, England.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter: 
@ColinShaw_CX