Most companies function in silos. It’s a difficult habit to break – the reality is that certain teams require a lot of communication within their own departments and can function with minimal communication to other departments. Once a company becomes too siloed, the departments are rearranged and forced to transition into a new structure. Then, those new structures begin to become siloed.
In some ways, this siloing is inevitable. However, rather than trying to foster constant communication across different departments, periodic and meaningful interaction can be incredibly helpful. And one way to get meaningful interaction in a short amount of time is to have team members do each other’s jobs, or at least shadow and try to help, for a half-day.
Getting divergent departments to interact isn’t intended to make them experts at every job specialty in the business – instead, the goal is to learn about the ways one’s job specialty impacts others. How does a salesperson’s promises affect a client services team? How does ticketing affect vending at a movie theater? Different departments affect each other, and more importantly, their combined efforts affect the end customer experience.
Fixing Existing Issues in Other Departments
Despite efforts to solicit feedback along the customer journey, there are inevitably times when information falls through the cracks. Specifically, the shortcomings of one touchpoint may not become apparent until further down the customer journey.
Take the example of warranty communication. If a customer made a purchase with a warranty over a year ago, they’re unlikely to remember what the warranty specifically covered. This is understandable. However, they should have easy access to information about their warranty and have an easy process for getting their purchased fixed. Is it hard for them to find information about their warranty? Does the company they purchased from make this process easy, or does it feel like they’re trying to avoid accountability? Does the warranty have good coverage?
In the above example, the warranty they signed up for over a year ago doesn’t apply until much later. This is true of many touchpoints:
- A misleading ad won’t become relevant until the customer is in-store, ready to purchase.
- A purchase decision won’t truly merit itself until the product is at home and in-use.
- Frustrations around wait times for customer support won’t be communicated until support is on the line.
Therefore, interdepartmental communication serves a vital function in communicating feedback to appropriate departments who don’t always hear feedback in the moment.
Communicating for a More Flawless Experience
Getting divergent departments to work together also helps create a customer experience that feels like it’s being delivered by a single organization, rather than several separate departments. Giving employees a window into their co-workers daily routines is important for a few reasons:
- Employees can align their messaging. Does your staff talk about your products and services the same way? Do they use the same vocabulary? Consistency in the way your products and services are described by your organization helps reinforce a positive customer experience by eliminating confusion.
- There is continuity in the customer journey. When customers have to repeat information, explain their prior experiences with the same organization multiple times, or don’t feel like the organization cares about their last interaction, they’re bound to get frustrated. Encouraging interdepartmental interaction helps employees understand what their customers experience at different points, how they might feel during their personal interactions, and where they’re going.
- Employees can identify disconnects. If there are gaps in the customer journey, inter-departmental communication is the only way to fill those. There may be points along the customer journey where customers are left in the dark or aren’t provided all the information they need. Interdepartmental communication relieves this issue and helps different groups assign responsibility to meet customer needs.
Consider interdepartmental interaction during your next staff meeting. Getting departments and individuals to interact in meaningful ways — specifically by shadowing and seeing each other work — will give your organization an incredible amount of insight. Learnings during this process will improve your customer journey and inspire out-of-the-box thinking to address deficiencies in your customer experience.