The Customer Experience Officer: Human Duct Tape to Connect the Silos

Continuing with our week focused on how big brands are earning word of mouth, here’s a guest post from author and CustomerBliss founder, Jeanne Bliss. You can meet Jeanne and learn a ton about earning customer love at the CXPA‘s Members Insight Exchange in San Diego June 19-20.

Why does it take such a push to wrap the focus of a company around the customer as the source of their revenue and profitability?

I’m no shrinking violet, and I can tell you that for every battle I’ve won, I’ve lost just as many. The big question is: Why has it been a battle? Why have I had these jobs? Why are YOU so necessary now?

While your company learns how to unite their efforts, your job is to unite the silos to move the business from delivering a defaulted (uncoordinated) experience to a reliable, deliberate, and eventually, a desired experience.

Your job is to be the human duct tape of your operation, providing your CEO and company with a view across your operation that just doesn’t exist today. In other words, to move your company from delivering your organization chart to delivering a differentiated experience that drives business growth and customer profitability.

For all the lip service about customers being at the center of business, we still haven’t gotten very far. Why? In my experience, it’s because of that organization chart — the silos and the isolated targets we establish during annual planning and put on our scorecards.

What goes out is defined by the traditional silos and is created to drive competency vertically: marketing, sales, shipping, and operations. Those in charge of building the competencies are motivated to create performance standards within their span of control. And those of us working inside the silos have learned that success can be achieved most easily through compartmentalizing our work and staying singularly focused on our mission.

Separate silo standards inhibit executive leadership’s ability to comprehend and manage their company’s total situation with customers, as they are served up only a slice of how the company performs silo by silo. These ‘silo snapshots’ frequently account for the random, reactive, and less-than-strategic responses regarding customers. Independent silo issues get fixed to meet scorecard goals, but because efforts aren’t connected, often our customers are the only ones to experience the totality of our ability (or inability) to work together in the corporate sandbox.

An Example of Dueling Silos?

(See if this sounds familiar):
Silo One: A highly regarded financial services company with a strong marketing department convinced leadership that they could get a lot more sales with every inbound customer service call.? So, they received the CEOs hearty endorsement and funding to train their phone reps to up-sell and cross-sell customers calling into customer service for help. Payout to the phone personnel was based on how many offers were taken by customers, and by how swiftly the reps could make all this happen.

Silo Two: Simultaneously a new effort was rolled out within customer service to improve the phone reps’ ability to build customer rapport, requiring an increase in reps’ time spent on the phone. An elaborate system of surveys was created to measure results, linked directly to individual rep performance. But here’s the rub and where the customer got lost due to competing silo agendas: There was payout from the marketing silo for up-selling and cross-selling (read: “We care about this so we pay for it.”), but there was no payout associated with achieving a customer-rapport phone call.

How calls went: With one eye on the timer clocking minutes and prompting them to end the call, the reps tried to build rapport. Then with talk-time dwindling, they’d rapid-fire offers to up-sell and cross-sell. This frenzy resulted in uncomfortable customers, disappointing additional sales, and frustrated phone personnel.

Disconnected Silos = Mediocre Customer Experiences

A single silver bullet was shot through the air to get more cash out of customers. It was fired from the marketing silo, which did not have the benefit of knowing what else was going on.

That disconnect made a tangle of things for both customers and the reps trying to serve them. While the phone personnel wanted to build rapport, they also wanted to make their payout. ?The mixed messages about what was important compromised the results of both efforts.

Does this problem sound familiar? How is your company working to focus more on the customer experience? What needs to change to make it happen?


About Jeanne Bliss

As “Chief Customer Officer” for Lands’ End, Mazda, Coldwell Banker, Allstate, and Microsoft, Jeanne got “customer” on the strategic agenda, earned 98% loyalty rates, and changed experiences across 50,000-person operations. Jeanne now runs CustomerBliss to create an actionable path for profitability and business growth -- through earning customer and employee raves. Her best-selling books are Chief Customer Officer and I Love You More than My Dog: Five Decisions that Drive

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  1. andy_mcf

    Bet your silo description hits people between the eyes.

    Not only are the silos dueling, but the metrics used to track “success” vary as well. Until companies are purposefully aligned to customer objectives, chaos reigns. Some other thoughts on metrics in a post entitled, “Moneyball, Metrics, and the Customer Experience”

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