Many companies add digital channels to keep up with evolving customer expectations and engage them in new ways.
Yet, if the company fails to link these channels with a central CRM, they risk channel silos that disappoint internal employees — managing conversations on the channel — and customers.
Silos can also adversely affect business outcomes. As Rachel Lane, Solution Principal at CX provider Medallia, said in conversation with CX Today:
“Channel silos can have a significant negative effect on a brand’s bottom lines. How can you cross-sell and upsell if you don’t know what that customer already owns?”
Yet, to understand and address all these problems, it is essential first to understand what channel silos are in the context of customer experience.
What Are Channel Silos? A Definition
A channel silo occurs when two or more customer engagement channels exist without interconnectivity or data sharing. They operate independently of each other.
Such silos emerge when customer service, sales, and marketing implement a channel with little or no regard for their integration. Typically, this happens during the rush of rapid digital transformation or changing market trends.
However, the ideal scenario is to link each channel with a central database – be it a CRM or CDP – that contributes to a single source of truth about the customer.
Such an ecosystem smooths over channels silos, helps contact center agents to support customers, and unlocks many new CX opportunities like hyper-personalization.
Channel Silos In Marketing, Sales, and Service
First, consider marketing. Customers are exposed to its communication through several channels. They receive marketing material from the internet, mobile devices, email, print publications, and retail locations.
However, marketers often work in segregated ecosystems, split into various groups, departments, and locations. Breaking these siloes down with unified communications and a central CRM enables collaboration that breaks down marketing channel silos.
In sales, channel silos can also create chaos as customers often engage across multiple channels while making their purchasing decision. Making them repeat the information when engaging through a new means will likely irritate the customer and harm the sales process.
Across customer service too, this issue of making the customer repeat themselves emerges, while it also adds to handling times.
A siloed customer experience can also harm service experiences by:
- Driving inconsistency in channel-to-channel activities
- Forcing customers to repeat authentication processes
- Repeating customer messaging to an irritating degree
- Extending case management processes
How to Break Down Channel Silos
To break down channel silos, organizations can switch from a multichannel approach to an omnichannel platform. Doing so will make a unified and centralized data repository available for all product and customer information.
In addition, this hub will aggregate customer data from all systems the operations team uses. These may include in-store and online sales, website, contact center, mobile application, field personnel, and warehouse data. As such, businesses establish a reliable hub for all channels.
To achieve this aim, the following tips may prove insightful.
- Reimagine the Inventory
When eliminating channel silos, try to consolidate offline and online into one entity, utilizing an identical, accurate, and foolproof inventory.
Customers should receive the same experience regardless of whether they opt to purchase online, buy the product in-store, or simply request a delivery.
- Leverage a Centralized Data Repository
It is only possible to offer a silo-free client experience by sharing reliable and accurate data.
Utilizing a CRM is one method for determining specific customer profiles and their requirements. The software maintains and updates information across all integrated channels.
Customer data integration (CDI) technologies are another area to explore.
- Train Contact Center Agents Appropriately
Coach agents on the competencies beyond the ambit of their channel specialization. Ideally, they will understand the process and what their co-workers do.
In addition, it is good to consider the resources or data they may want from them. This will facilitate intelligent and quick collaboration between channel operators and perhaps lead to better CX.
Prevent Channel Silos by Building a Connected Enterprise
A connected enterprise will have an operational framework oriented toward eliminating silos across both channels and various business functions.
These companies can collect and disseminate data from all channels. In doing so, they can run better analysis that reveals critical customer, product, and service trends.
Having this information readily accessible for a department or unit that may need it accelerates problem resolution.
Speaking to CX Today, Mary Moilanen, Business Intelligence Initiatives Manager at Calabrio, said:
“A connected enterprise is one that has done what is often talked about, but so rarely accomplished. This includes breaking down silos and working together across departments to understand the data flowing between areas.”
As Moilanen suggests, the aim should be to build a connected enterprise where data flows organically across channels and equips operational teams to provide contextual solutions.
Looking for a CRM that will help eliminate channel siloes? If so, our rundown of the Forrester Wave for Core CRM Solutions 2022 may prove helpful.