Does A Brand’s Corporate Structure Affect Customer Experience?

Over the past few years I have become more convinced than ever that corporate structures need to radically change. This is entirely driven by the change in the way that customers learn about products and then engage with brands – either to make a purchase or to just communicate and ask questions.

The concept of the linear customer journey started a slow death the moment that customers started using the mobile Internet and social networks. Now there is no simple step-by-step journey where a marketing campaign informs customers, a retailer facilitates a purchase, and a customer service contact centre offers post-sales help and support.

The customer journey today is jumbled and can be viewed more as a relationship that is ongoing rather than a series of linear steps that logically follow each other:

  • Customers learn about products from a variety of online information sources.
  • Customers ask their friends questions, read online reviews, ask strangers for comment, and even direct questions directly to brands.
  • Customer interaction taking place only after a sale is what has mainly changed – now there is constant interaction with the brand, with friends, and with other customers.
  • There’s been a 10% growth in hands free searches
  • 69% of snapchat users will add a brand as a friend

Gartner neatly defined this concept in their paper exploring the Customer Experience in 2020. They suggested that companies need to reorganise internal departments so any function that is customer facing is performed in partnership with the other customer facing functions. In practice this means that functions such as customer service, marketing, sales, PR, and advertising all need to work together as one team because they are all trying to influence or communicate with the customer.

There is no longer a neat dividing line between marketing and customer service because interactions take place all the time. Gartner suggests that the functions are combined into what they call a Customer Experience Hub.

This strategy is reinforced by INSEAD data published in the Harvard Business Review recently. The research acknowledges that reorganising silos within a company can be difficult, but in this case it is essential because of the way that customer behaviour has changed.

The INSEAD research demonstrates some interesting correlations. Companies that have broken down their internal silos and created a structure similar to the one Gartner describes were found to be best-in-class. That is, they were also the best companies for financial performance and customer experience.

These best in class companies have realised that marketing is about more than just communication today. It requires the customer experience to be managed in addition to the message the company wants to send to customers. At Teleperformance, we already recognise the impact that organisation structure can have on employees and ultimately the CX they deliver. In Guyana for example, our latest site in LATAM, the org chart is inverted with agents as the top supported by the rest of the business.

The INSEAD research suggests that marketing directors should take the lead on reforming their organisation to include a customer experience hub. I’m not sure that I entirely agree with this as it very much depends on the structure of each individual organisation. Some may have a very strong customer service team that can absorb and lead the marketing function. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there is a strategic need to rethink how your internal structures affect the customer experience.

Smartphone rituals

Photo by Nicolas Nova licensed under Creative Commons.

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