Are Your Information Silos Frustrating Your Customers?

By |2018-07-26T17:43:39+00:00July 26th, 2018|Brand Experience, Channel Execution|0 Comments

What song lyric best captures the state of today’s overall customer experience? You could argue for Lily Allen’s Everything’s Just Wonderful … as long as you recognize the song is actually saying everything is quite the opposite.

We boast about the potential of omnichannel experiences but leave our customer data stuck in information silos. That creates what Bob Thompson of CustomerThink so accurately coined “touchpoint amnesia,” fragmenting the overall brand experience and frustrating customers.

On how many channels does the average customer have to explain the same situation to get a resolution?

Unfortunately, too many — leaving many customers to identify with the words of songwriter Adrian Belew:

I repeat myself when under stress.
I repeat myself when under stress.
I repeat myself when under stress.
I repeat myself when under stress.

Is this really the experience we want to be giving our customers?

Information Silos Here, There, Everywhere

Information silos restrict the flow of data between departments and divisions, preventing companies from achieving their goals of seamless, frictionless experiences.

Let me share two examples.

Publix is a Lakeland, Florida-based grocery chain that consistently rates well in customer experience surveys. Earlier this year it introduced electronic receipts as an easy way for registered customers to “keep receipts, review purchases, and cut down on waste at checkout.”

All you need to do is enter the phone number associated with your Publix.com account at checkout. You get a copy of the receipt by email and it’s supposed to be stored in your account on Publix.com. But it’s not a seamless system.

If you need to return an item, you cannot simply enter your phone number on the checkout pad to access your account. The store clerks cannot access the receipt, either. You have to actually log into your Publix.com account or scroll through your email to find the receipt and then hand your phone to the store clerk.

Without a smartphone, you’re out of luck.

If I can enter my phone number to associate a purchase with my account, why can’t I enter a phone number to find my recent receipts?

Ford Drives Me Crazy

For four years, I’ve been having my car serviced at the same Ford dealership near Hardeeville, South Carolina. Somehow the dealership comingled my account with my daughter’s account. So every time I provide my name or phone number, the service advisor says, “We have no record of you ever having service here.”

Even though I have asked repeatedly to have this error addressed, nothing changes. What’s worse, when I give the service advisor my daughter’s name, she still can’t find the records for my car.

Each visit, I have to escalate the issue, speak to the service manager, provide my car’s complete vehicle identification number, and have him enter it on yet another database. Only then will he find the records for service on my car — under my daughter’s name.

Logically, I ask, “Why couldn’t the service advisor find the records when she searched under my daughter’s name?” The response: “Our systems don’t talk to each other.”

Well, they should, O.C. Welch Ford!

Understand Your Customers

Are information silos insurmountable obstacles? Or, more realistically, do silos remain a hallmark of even sophisticated digital customer experiences today because of poor planning and a lack of empathy?

To create exceptional brand experiences, companies and brands need to develop a strategy that supports their desired outcomes. But too often they embrace what appears to be the next best thing — plugging in a new technology that always promises to be a silver bullet but, alas, never is.

The best strategic plans make people the priority. They aim to make life and work simpler, easier, and more convenient for customers, employees, and other stakeholders.

And they are coupled with a deep understanding of how the experiences you provide make people feel.

As Arke CMTO Chris Spears likes to say, “Businesses not only need to walk in the shoes of their customers, they need to be empathetic enough to feel the pain caused by the pebbles in those shoes.”

Empathy — the ability to understand and share the feelings of another — is a cornerstone of brand excellence. Successful businesses relate to their customers on a personal level. They understand their customers’ problems and are willing to solve them.

And they don’t make customers repeat themselves. They aim to eliminate information silos, moving ever closer to frictionless brand experiences.

For More Information

Need help crafting the best brand experience strategies? Email Chris Spears or Margaret Wise for more information.

About Arke

Atlanta-based Arke develops strategies and implements digital technologies for better brand experience for your customers.

About the Author:

Noreen Seebacher is the content evangelist at Arke, where she researches, writes and continues her long career in news reporting as a brand journalist. Noreen lives in Beaufort, SC with her husband, her dog, and four formerly homeless cats.