Published: February 06, 2019 | Comments
Spotlight on Strategy: Join Chris at ICMI Contact Center Connections from October 28-30 in Chicago. He'll be speaking in session 303: "How to Have Success with Knocking Down Walls and Silos."
Within many organizations, barriers to both resources and information
exist. Unfortunately, when it comes to the contact center, these walls not
only impede the progress of team members but also limit the customer
experience. Sometimes there is vital information hidden behind a curtain
that only a select few can access. Some departments,
unknowingly, operate within their own silos, withholding critical information
and resources from others who may benefit from it. If these walls between
departments and those supporting customers were to come down, there would be
a positive effect on the organization and the customer. This would increase in customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and
In this article, we will explore proven ways that those in the contact
center can help break down these walls and silos in their organization.
But first, why do silos and walls between departments exist within an
Silos and walls exist when there is a lack of both information and
resources shared between teams or departments within an organization.
Goals, priorities, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) may not be widely
known amongst all groups. In an organization where teams operate
independently of each other, there may be walls, sometimes both literally
and figuratively, put up to keep others out, negatively impacting
collaboration. As such, employee engagement suffers as many people are not
as effective or successful as they could or want to be. Interactions
between members of the different departments can also be strained if
efforts are not made to improve the culture and flow of work. In the end,
walls and silos primarily exist because of communication problems within an
In the contact center, how can you help to break down walls across the
business to improve communication?
Align Your Team Around a Theme
- As contact center leaders, you are succeeding when your team is
successful. To equip those in the contact center to succeed, you will need
to provide them with access to more information and resources so that they
can support customers better.
- Aim to align your team around the theme of "breaking down the walls." Ensure everyone, at all levels of the
team, is on the lookout for ways to gain more influence and insights from
across the business.
- You can't, nor should you, do it alone. Having everyone on your team
working with the goal of building bridges across other teams will serve
everyone well. Having support from your Executive or Senior Leaders goes a
long way too.
Data: Create a Need to Share Culture to Drive Continuous Improvement
- The contact center is oozing with data. Insights on customers, products,
and services are everywhere, but often underutilized. Most people
throughout the business don't even realize that some great sources of intel
are easily within their grasp. Aim to create a culture where you and those
on your team feel the need to share with others.
- Taking interactions for the sake of taking interactions is useless. The
contact center should operate with the mentality that it can be a funnel
for continuous improvement insights for the rest of the business. Customer
data and trends should be used to help improve products, services, and
processes. As contact center professionals, make sure you are leveraging
the data from your team and presenting customer insights into partner
departments like Marketing, Sales and Product. Your goal should be to offer
data to help them be even more successful.
- As it becomes more common to share contact center data throughout the
rest of the business, the more valuable your team will be perceived to be
by others. Soon enough, other leaders will be coming asking for feedback on
how to make the customer experience better. Personally, I have found this
to be when the floodgates open with access to new tools, information,
and processes for your team. You’ve created a win/win environment for
Syncs: Eliminate the Disconnect
- To eliminate silos, sometimes you need to confront them head-on. Don't be
afraid to schedule meetings with leaders in other teams, calling out the
need for greater transparency and communication. Unlock the power of these Sync Sessions to improve communication and alignment around the
- This must be a slow build approach to creating collaboration though. You
can't go into these meetings initially asking for the world or be hot and
fired up about the lack of alignment you might be seeing. While there might
be opportunities for improvement, trust me, it does no good for you
personally or your team, to whine or aggressively try to force others to
collaborate. Like dating, these initial meetings should be about getting to
know one another first. You are working on improving your relationship with
each other. Ask questions and get to know what’s going on in their world as
your number one priority:
o Find out what’s on their plate? Share what’s on yours too.
o What are their challenges or pain points?
o How can you help each other?
o Ultimately, you need to use these sessions to build a win/win culture
between your teams where each of you come away with something eventually
down the road.
- It takes time to build trust and rapport. There needs to be a regular
cadence to how often these meetings are held.
- It is best to keep these sessions small too. Don't group a variety of
departments together for a combined sync session. It will go off the rails
and lose focus, meandering into a giant waste of time. Instead, focus on
having targeted sessions with the leaders of teams that connect best to the
contact center on a semi-regular basis (once per quarter or bi-monthly).
- The more you can connect, the more that the contact center will be on
their radar. Before you know it, you can involve members of the team in
these sessions creating a development opportunity for others too.
Recognition: Applies to Everyone
- All people want to be recognized for good work, including teams. While
you are working through sync sessions and sharing data, you will start to
see other members of the business helping the contact center be more
effective. Recognize them for it.
- To reward the correct behaviors, first, thank them. You want to be a
leader and team known for catching people doing things right. Publicly or
privately recognize individuals who help support the efforts of the contact
center with lunches, or email a quick thank you, or even provide them with
a trophy. It doesn't have to cost a lot either.
- Reward to reinforce by having your team involved in the process. If
people are making your job and that of your team's easier, recognize these
supporting stars for their contributions to the contact center. Build a
formal recognition program where you recognize those that make the customer
experience better throughout the organization.
Use Talent Wisely: Have Allies Everywhere
- In many organizations, the contact center serves as a feeder pool for
talent to be promoted into other parts of the business. While it can be
frustrating losing these high-potentials, it's a tremendous source of
strength that few realize.
- Leverage team members who used to be part of the contact center as
allies, who can help further the customer experience and your team's
interests. Ensure that those who leave your team "don't forget where they have come from" and lean on them if need
be to help improve communication. If you successfully maintain a stronger
connection to those no longer part of your team, you can further build your
network internally, accomplishing much more through access to new
information, tools, and processes.
- Just because someone isn't officially part of the contact center doesn’t
mean he or she still doesn’t support customers either. All people in an
organization have two jobs: (1) the one they were hired for and (2)
supporting customers. Keep reminding people whom you worked with about the
importance of the second job that they have.
As you start breaking down walls and silos across your organization,
collaborating more with other teams, how will you know if you are
successful? In my experience as part of the contact center, there are two
key numbers that I closely monitor to gauge success with breaking down
walls and silos: Volume & Customer Satisfaction.
- Depending on overall business growth, your year-over-year volume may tell
you if you are successful in improving communication across the business.
o If overall interaction volume dips year-over-year despite the company
posting higher revenues and increases, then you were successful. If your
contact center interactions are trending down, it's a good sign that you
are effectively working well across department lines, with key groups like
IT, Product and Marketing on deflection efforts. A reduction in interaction
volume can also be attributed to things like product quality or information
improvements that were highlighted and shared through customer data.
o If interaction volumes continue to rise with repeat situations not
addressed, it shows that a culture of continuous improvement and sharing
data cross-functionally isn't happening enough.
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
- Setting and hitting a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), such as 90%+ CSAT
per quarter, can mean that cross-functionally you are getting the support
you need to improve the overall experience.
o Those providing support may be the only people that a customer contacts
at an organization. As such, they represent customer satisfaction for the
organization. If CSAT is going up, it's because the organization is better
aligned around the customer experience.
o The goal should always be to provide a simple, efficient and effective
customer experience. If your organization has a consistently high CSAT
score or an improved one year-over-year, it shows that progress is being
made across the entire business.
Breaking down walls and silos won’t be easy. It takes hard work and
patience to make a breakthrough sometimes. More than likely, you will
encounter some pockets of resistance, but the more you can persevere, the
better positioned for success you will be. In my experience, building a
culture of alignment and collaboration throughout the entire organization
could take months or even years, but the long wait and effort are worth it.
As you become more successful in building bridges across teams, momentum
will kick in, unlocking tons of potential for you and the rest of the
Remember, breaking down walls and silos takes a coordinated effort and
- Start with aligning the contact center around the theme of breaking down barriers.
- Create a culture of needing to share information to drive ongoing
- Eliminate the disconnect with other leaders throughout the business
unlocking the power of sync sessions.
- Everyone who helps you and the contact center should be recognized and
- Leverage allies, including former team members across the business to
gain access to relationships, information and more resources.
The more effective communication is throughout the business, the more
likely walls and silos across the organization can come down.