Breaking Silos: Empowering Marketers for Customer-Centric Change
Rhoan Morgan is a regular contributor to CMSWire. She helps CMOs and marketing leaders lead with customer experience and establish a clear connection between their efforts and the business’s bottom line. This post originally appeared on CMSWire.
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Over the last five parts of this six-part series on how to empower marketers to understand their role as change agents and customer experience champions, my colleague Eric Hollebone and I have covered the purpose of marketing, its contribution to revenue, building a blueprint for growth and putting it into action, and using data and tools to create the ideal customer experience.
In this final installment, we share how to take that same sense of closeness we seek with our customers and prospects and apply it within an organization.
Sideline the silos
Communicating beyond your own department can feel like a radical change. Most organizations still think and operate in silos. Unfortunately, there’s a certain amount of “it’s always been done this way” or “this department does this and not that.” This line of thinking needs to vanish.
When an organization works together to put the customer at the center of everything they do, silos have a way of crumbling.
Let’s see what this might look like — before team collaboration and then after — and determine who needs to lead the way.
Here’s a snapshot of what a “before” might look like, both internally and externally.
Internally: Misaligned goals and metrics drive departments. Sales gets frustrated with marketing, playing the blame game. Customer success feels exasperated with sales and marketing for overpromising and leaving them to cope with disillusioned customers. Product produces irrelevant research. IT focuses only on organizational security and compliance. Finance is tired of writing checks without seeing tangible returns.
Externally: Companies can’t hide misalignment and disorganization from their customers. Customers face roadblocks, confusing detours, and businesses that don’t seem to know much about them.
The good news: You can fix this.
The first step is to bring representatives of every business function together to discuss their needs, wants, and concerns when it comes to customer engagement.
And the best lead for this task is marketing leadership because marketing has the longest-lasting relationship with the customer, and the CMO has the relationships at the executive level to help bridge the divide.
Here’s what the “after” might look like, internally and externally.
Internally: Departmental goals align with corporate goals for every team. Cross-collaboration is built into metrics. Sales and marketing form a true partnership. Customer success has access to pre-and post-sale data that relates to and supports the customer. IT and marketing collaborate on technologies. Product captures more meaningful insights.
Externally: The customer feels known and seen. Their engagement with the company is frictionless. Every customer experience feels memorable and meaningful.
This is job #1 for marketers: Empathize with the customer’s goals and struggles. It’s not like speed-dating, where you meet someone and then move on; rather, it’s a genuine, ongoing partnership that comes from deeply understanding where your customers are coming from.
The first step in a long journey
CMOs face great responsibility — and great opportunity. To take the lead, we need to implement new systems and think in new ways. Here are six action items to get you going.
- Realign your team
Set the customer journey as everyone’s goal, and cultivate the technical and analytical skills to smooth the way. This will build credibility, create change, and prepare your team to collaborate with others.
- Make your presence known
Champion a customer-centric approach with data, action, and measurable outcomes. Represent the customer’s best interests and become the go-to resource for their perspective.
- Deepen relationships
Connect with leadership. Learn their priorities and frustrations. Discuss how you can make their lives easier by supporting revenue attribution, data governance, and system controls.
- Build bridges
Bring marketing, sales, and customer success together to align goals and success metrics, integrate technologies, and share data.
- Learn a new language
Set aside marketing language like impressions, open rates, and click-throughs. Instead, flex your business and finance vocabulary and discuss the cost of acquisition, customer lifetime value, and revenue acceleration.
- Raise the bar
Think bigger. Aim higher. Set targets that align with your organization’s KPIs and measure success around revenue goals.
Change starts now
This will take time. It may try your patience. That’s normal.
In the meantime, remain clear about objectives, timelines, resource availability, and your decision-making power, especially with your highest-level executives. Implement systems that are connected well enough to pull the data from any point in the customer journey. The right platform will give you a clear view of how your channels have performed — and what you’ll need to do in the future.
When you rally your organization to align on maximizing the customer experience, customers will engage with a cohesive and valuable experience that will keep them coming back.