Breaking Down Silos and Building Bridges

Chris Benedetto, Director of Marketing, Sales Automation, Pegasystems

Today’s customers expect more out of their buying experiences than ever before. These customers are also more intelligent than ever – with the explosion of available information creating a 24/7 buying and customer service mentality, and informed consumers expecting an experience that makes them feel known and valued by the companies with which they engage.

Unfortunately sales, marketing, customer service and onboarding/operations functions are often running as disparate business systems that are not conducive to creating the holistic experiences that today’s customers expect. This puts businesses at risk of missing the mark and losing valuable, lifetime customers to the competition. But savvy companies can build bridges between siloes to create positive experiences that will catapult them towards success.

The disconnect between business functions reared its head during a recent interaction at my bank that led to several key lessons in what to do – and what not to do – to deliver a seamless customer experience.

A few months ago, I went to the bank to deposit a check (yes, you can still deposit checks in person contrary to popular belief). To my surprise, the teller offered me a better rate on an existing car loan I had with the bank during this interaction. All I needed to do was spend a few minutes with a relationship manager, apply for the loan online, and the new loan would be in effect. It all sounded so easy and mutually beneficial – I got a new loan term and rate, and the bank retained me as a customer with a better product. But this was the end of the pleasant experience I was expecting, as the sales and onboarding process was anything but smooth.

The conversation with the relationship manager quickly turned from an information session about the new loan into a hard sell on a credit card. Not just any card, but one that I already had. Not only was the offer not relevant to me, but the situation in which it was presented was completely out of context. And that was just the beginning.

Know Your Customer
Fast forward to actually processing the car loan – the bank asked that I fill out a series of forms that included basic personal information like address, social security number, occupation, balances, etc. I have been a customer with this bank for 15 years. All of this information is already on file, but it was clear that their disjointed systems didn’t integrate to ease the burden on their customers (which is frankly a waste of time for both parties).

The final straw was when they asked for the title to my car to secure the loan. Remember that this bank already owns my existing loan, and therefore holds the title. Clearly the bank’s systems did not recognize that department A needed the title which was held by department B. In the end, what started as a delightful surprise quickly turned into a lost customer. Unfortunately these kinds of frustrating customer experiences happen all the time, and exist in sales, customer service and marketing domains at many enterprises.

Companies across every industry including healthcare, communications, and insurance can take away important lessons in linking their customer engagement efforts to the back office from this customer experience blunder. Below are several key considerations that will go a long way in maintaining and expanding relationships with your customers and prospects through the lens of sales being the main interaction point. 

Client facing personnel (sellers, relationship managers, agents, etc.) need the right data and tools to intelligently fulfill prospect and client needs. With the power of this knowledge, the relationship manager mentioned above would not have offered me a credit card I already had and would have been presented with my existing data as part of the standard onboarding process.

C-level executives and IT/business transformation managers need to improve front line seller management of customer data. Allowing sellers and relationship managers to update, access, and manage customer information and then share that across areas of the business, can only serve to help companies avoid poor customer interactions.

Fragmented systems drive inconsistent experiences, and while it can be hard to build, deploy, integrate, and manage CRM and onboarding applications, it’s not impossible. Pre-populate forms with known data. Don’t offer products and services that are already purchased. Push insights about web, email, and service interactions to sellers so they are informed.

Companies that take control of their sales data and streamline every interaction with their customers are setting themselves up for a prosperous future. Success will be dictated by how companies break down the silos within their business to better serve sales as they service the customer journey.

Chris Benedetto is the Director of Marketing and Sales Automation at Pegasystems. He has 20 years of software sales, marketing, and product management experience for marketing automation, SFA, e-commerce, and supply chain software.