Our experience of large Norwegian businesses shows that when employees are motivated to think in terms of value chains, both efficiency and quality increase. Together with one of our key collaborating partners, Talkmore, we have focused on what is required to create effective and synergy-driven value chains internally.
“Companies that work in silos are not capable of being customer-centric over time. In a digital world, you can no longer choose not to deal with such cultural issues,” says Kristin Sand Bakken, strategic consultant at Knowit and Key Account Manager for Talkmore.
“There are many challenges. Fragmented focus, randomly connected processes and individual ambassadors with minimal awareness of each other are typical characteristics. Also, the absence of a formal strategy and knowledge about which value chain must be in place to consistently deliver good customer experiences affect many businesses. Together with Talkmore, we place great emphasis on addressing this issue.
Eight out of 10 companies believe that they deliver good customer experiences.Only 8% of customers agree.
(Accenture, Oct. 2018)
The challenge is acute when it comes to strengthening multidisciplinary collaboration
“Market changes occur very quickly and demand a continuous adaptation of products and services,” says John Sebastian Schmidt Slørdahl, CEO of Talkmore. “Customers also expect us to have one face – regardless of which point on the customer journey you make contact. Silo thinking causes customer contact to be weakened and slow, and we note that the marketing side has much to gain from utilising scrum processes and agile thinking. In our sector we must be able to turn on a sixpence, and then internal communication across the market, sales and product becomes important in order to navigate in new sales and distribution channels,” he says.
“The IT director, who is traditionally responsible for digital processes, often measures streamlining, automation and lower costs, while the marketing director measures growth and increased revenues,” says Kristin Sand Bakken. “The fact that IT is internally focused, while marketing is externally focused could be suboptimal and also a source of conflict. In order to create synergies between IT and marketing, perhaps both need to develop their respective horizons and the term “technological understanding” must be redefined. Digitalisation is not about having as much technology as possible but about utilising it in the best possible way to drive efficiency, increase competitiveness and exploit new business opportunities. It is often sensible to look at digital tools as more than a technology, but as a mindset; a way of doing things,” she says.
How is Talkmore organised?
“We now see a clear shift in which the distinction between two traditional disciplines, communication and technology, is fading," emphasises Schmidt Slørdahl. “Technology and data will become more clearly combined with empathy, customer centricity and probably creativity. Technology and marketing will be integrated, and new opportunities will emerge, which we would like to utilise. We must rig our organisation and use digital technology in order to deliver the values that the next generation of customers wants. They have very high expectations for efficiency, freedom from friction and product deliveries you can trust. They also expect to be inspired to a greater extent than previously.”
How will you do this?
“We will primarily focus on two types of journey: the customer journey and our internal journey – a complete “in-house” business process. We must use technology and other operational capacities in a coordinated way in order to avoid silo thinking. Silos are not just something we have on the organisational chart. They are entrenched in our minds and in the way we think. We can see signs of this in most companies, and I believe it is attributable to a lack of information and mutual accountability.
I am convinced that employees with an understanding of contexts and framework conditions are better able to recognise how we must work to deal with the extremely tough competition we are facing. We are Telenor’s so-called Fighting Brand and must combine low prices with good coverage as well as differentiate our brand in a consistent and attractive way.
We must also become more transparent internally, ready to utilise the customer database across the silos. Perhaps we should also rotate managers and business units between silos to a greater extent in order to create a greater level of understanding for our collective capacity and strengthen the informal networks in the organisation,” says Schmidt Slørdahl.
Digitalisation doesn’t just change customer dialogue but also how employees work. New communications tools between employees, customers and suppliers mean that it is possible to limit ineffective silo thinking to some extent,” says Sand Bakken at Knowit. Then it is important to identify areas of improvement that are large enough to provide speed and momentum, but also at a scale that means it can be implemented.
What is it that really matters to customers?
Companies often assume that they know what their customers care about. When Accenture also tells us that as many as 80% of companies believe that they deliver good customer experiences, while just 8% of their customers agree with this, it becomes evident that traditional guesswork is usually wrong. Then customer service is performed based on standard methods of resolving problems that are not based on the needs and preferences of the actual customer.
Currently, many businesses are sitting on large volumes of data and reports, which should be transformed into prioritised and relevant measures. Identifying customer profiles and the contact requirements of the respective customers is smart in order to prioritise “need to have” and “nice to have”. Then it becomes possible to develop a relevant, personalised and market-differentiated dialogue, which delivers on up-selling, more customers, lower churn and fewer enquiries to the customer centre.
Never have marketeers known so much about their customers as they do today, while customers have never been so dissatisfied with marketing.
Head of Analytics at Google, Kevin Hartman
Your customers have clear expectations within these three areas:
- speed and flexibility, shortest possible processing time, availability and needs-based service.
- Reliability and openness, including proactive contact and communication.
- Interaction and care, comprising solid skills, relevant dialogue, empathy, simplicity and clarity
Don’t allow technology to get in the way of good customer experiences
“It is in this area that the technological infrastructure must not be so complex that it prevents the business from delivering good customer experiences. Out-of-date technology is also a challenge,” explains Kristin Sand Bakken. “We often see solutions that were fine 3 or 4 years ago but that no longer deliver current requirements for user experience. If you simply continue to maintain existing solutions, problems arise too often, as well as higher costs. Many companies establish a “maintenance recycling project”, which is probably somewhat less costly than a new, updated solution. However, this will make the business more vulnerable over time. Throwing digital dust at existing solutions is not always the correct medicine,” she says.
“Such a situation is not unusual. Quite a few utility actors and others experience this. Sales targets, market reactions and commercial frameworks have controlled/generated different but relevant priorities along the way. This has resulted in design changes and new functionality which slowly but surely has undermined the foundations of the current version. New design has been prioritised ahead of robust foundations. Benefits can be achieved in the short term, but this is no lasting solution, and it is important to be able to identify when you are at a crossroads at which developing new functionality and user-friendliness – alternatively upgrading your solution – will be unnecessarily complex.
“In order to optimise ‘time to market’, costs and quality, we recommend an agile approach to work. We increasingly engage in so-called sprints in order to ensure feedback from the market, so that we can begin developing MVPs (Minimum Viable Product) which make the customer satisfied.” This is also the solution that gives the greatest return on investment in relation to risk. Then we create the most optimal solutions – both for customers and economically for the business itself,” says Sand Bakken.