Data Silos Impact Customer Experience

Delivering a winning customer experience requires a joined-up organisation.  Customers hate dealing with fragmented companies.  They get frustrated when they have to tell the same information to different people and annoyed when they have to deal with different departments.

Did you know there are at least 5 silos which impact customer experience?

1) Organizational Silos

“Another department handles that” is all-too-common for customers to hear. In customers’ minds, “You have to go to X to get that” or “I’ll transfer you to Y” means delays in getting on with their objective. It means hassles: having to re-explain the situation, or worse, having to recite yet again account numbers and security answers.

Obviously businesses must have departments to specialize knowledge and streamline work. What’s missing for the customer experience is information-sharing, empowerment and collaboration among departments to minimize delays and hassles. Additionally, chronic thorns in customers’ sides typically span multiple organizations, emphasizing the dire need for organizational collaboration.

2) Channel Silos

“We only handle in-store transactions; you’ll have to contact the dealer you bought from, or our online group.” In customers’ minds, this means extra costs, delays, premature roll-outs, and lack of brand integrity: am I dealing with one brand or a mish-mash of opportunists?

A variety of sales and service channels help customers get what they need when they need it.What’s missing for the customer experience is integrated data, policies, and procedures, and experience continuity across sales channels, across service channels and between sales and service channels.

3) Systems Silos

“You’ll have to log-in to our other site” or “That mobile app isn’t available for the type of account you have” or “That went to the fax machine at our national site”. In customers’ minds, this means red tape nuisances, mustering patience to understand the lack of logic, chasing things that fell into a black hole, and tiresome delays.

Businesses acquire other businesses and adopt new technologies, and it takes time to consolidate or integrate. What’s missing for the customer experience is proactive communication about what to expect, carrying the ball for the customer rather than pushing the inconvenience on them, and taking initiative to prevent black holes.

4) Data Silos

“That’s in another database” or “thanks for being transferred to me; what is your account number and situation again?” In customers’ minds, this means repetition, wasted time, and uncertainty.

Businesses capture data all along the customer life cycle, from different sources, and in various formats. What’s missing for the customer experience is minimization of the mundane and laborious steps to get what they need.

5) Process Silos

“Welcome from your dealer” and “welcome from your success manager” and similar messages from so many departments might underscore your enthusiasm for the customer, but multiple groups sending onboarding notes, or requesting survey feedback, and so forth indicate broken processes. In customers’ minds, this means means extra reading, redundant interactions, and confusion about who to go to for what, another set of things to integrate into their already busy life.

Businesses have many moving parts that serve customers and want customer inputs. What’s missing for the customer experience is simplicity, with a focus on their own life/business rather than a sizable amount of their mindshare on the supplier’s business.


Overall, the key to dealing with silos inside a business is in expanding our perspectives and motivations in the work we do.

Here are some ways to demolish the silo thinking and improve customer experience

Map in detail your customer journeys, including the different communication channels customers want to use. For each step on that journey ask these questions:

  • What matters most to the customer? Check with customers: many companies assume they know but don’t.
  • Which channels does the customer want to use? Again, this may well be a wider choice than you currently provide
  • To deliver well the things that matter most, across those channels, what is our designed experience? Don’t leave the customer experience to chance.

Build your CRM system around these customer journey, not your processes. The clue is in the acronym – it begins with a C not a P! This will ensure that staff are not battling systems to deliver the customer experience. Capture data in real-time across all channels to build an up-to-the-minute single customer view.

Develop a set of coherent metrics that tell you how well your business is delivering on the things that matter most to customers and the business outcomes they are generating. Ensure that these are widely shared, understood and acted on.

Share the unadulterated voice of the customer across your organization to let employees know what customers really think. Make the data and particularly any follow-up actions a part of their everyday work, not something to look at when they have time.

Make retention, up-sell and advocacy a central element of bonuses to maximise the focus on keeping hard won customers. If it affects their wallets, people are likely to give it a bit more attention.

Make it easy for people to deliver a personalised customer experience by giving them simple access to all relevant customer data. This means one, all-embracing CRM system. Remember that personalised interactions are high on the list of customer expectations. Customers expect companies to use the increasing quantity of customer data they hold for their benefit, including interactions that meet the specific context of that customer and not a bland, ‘one size fits all’ experience.

Put customers at the heart of how you explain to employees, customers and shareholders why the company exists. Use customer stories to illustrate business issues and solutions. Such stories are easier to relate to than figures alone.

Appoint a Chief Customer Officer to coordinate strategy and be the customer champion on the senior management team. Give her the resources and power needed to drive change across the organisation. Make sure she is a master of persuasion – she will need to do a lot of cajoling to get the required change enacted.