On this last week’s podcast we be featured an interview with Suman Sarkar, an international consultant and author of new book Customer-Driven Disruption. We had a great conversation and you’ll want to check back here or on your favorite podcast platform to listen to the full episode (New episodes every Wednesday!). That said, one of the points that stood out most to me from Suman’s interview is what he had to say about how organizational silos prevent companies from achieving their CX objectives.
This struck a chord for me because I think that the vast majority of field service organizations today acknowledge and even embrace the need to become truly customer centric. But as Suman pointed out, “knowing and doing are two different things.” Sure, knowing and not doing can be an act of defiance. But more often than not, I think it is a matter of knowing and not knowing how to do. For service organizations, the change necessary to become truly customer centric is in many cases a matter of overhauling some deeply-rooted processes and practices.
One of the biggest changes that needs to occur, according to Suman, is the breakdown of organizational silos. “A siloed structure doesn’t actually enable employees to meet customer needs – it makes them loyal to their bosses rather than being loyal to the customers,” says Suman. “Think about it – as a customer, I don’t care if you’re from IT, service, sales, marketing, the back-office. The silo in which you operate is irrelevant to me and what I want my experience to be.” He brings about a good point in that when you have organizational silos all responsible for their individual objectives, it makes a cohesive – let alone exceptional – customer experience nearly impossible to deliver.
In order to change your company’s structure to enable a more customer-centric approach, Suman suggests four steps:
- Change how your employees are incentivized and start at the top. “Seventy to 80% of CEO’s salaries come from stock and stock options,” says Suman. “As a result, CEOs care more about what they are delivering to their shareholders than what they are delivering to their customers. For true change to take place, it has to start here.” Suman believes all employee compensation needs to be tied to customer-focused metrics to create alignment.
- Rethink how your teams are structured. Rather than operational silos, Suman urges you to consider creating customer-focused teams so that the focus shifts from the internal goals and objectives outward.
- Consider what kind of culture supports a customer focus. “A good company culture doesn’t necessarily equal a customer-centric company culture,” says Suman. He suggests staying focused on delivering speedier and richer results to customers and always looking for ways to create a better experience. For him, examples of companies getting this right include Disney, Southwest, Aldi, and Amazon.
- Determine how to hire good people and orient them toward your customers. Your customer experience vision cannot come to life without having the talent to execute on it. Figuring out how to reshape recruiting and hiring practices to bring talent on board that is capable of customer centricity is important, as well as providing thorough training.
Being at the “knowing” phase of your customer centricity journey is a good start, but understand that when it comes to the “doing,” there is some structural, foundational change that needs to occur in most cases for the effort to have the impact you desire.