Breaking out of silos: optimize global customer experience

September 29, 2019
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Almost every business that operates on a global scale faces the same challenge: how can it create cost-effective, high quality content that delivers the best possible customer experience? And for many of these businesses – especially larger organizations – the barrier to success is the same:
When multiple business units each handle their own content creation independently – without looking at the bigger picture – it can have a major, negative impact on the customer experience (CX). The customer journey encompasses a wide range of content types, such as webpages, brochures, and user manuals. To offer the best experience, all of this content should share the same messaging, tone, and terminology – and that kind of consistency isn’t possible without a coordinated, cross-departmental approach to content creation.
Silos aren’t a new issue, but as global customer experience (GCX) becomes an increasingly important source of competitive edge, the impact of silos on the customer journey is emerging as a top priority concern for many global businesses. With this article, we’ll take a closer look at the problem, and we’ll share our best practice advice for breaking out of silos.

The silo mentality and its CX implications

You are undoubtedly already familiar with the silo mentality. It’s a business culture that frequently plagues large and growing organizations, where departments see themselves as independent units rather than parts of the whole. Often, siloed units lack an awareness of the wider business context and how their work connects with that of other departments and the overarching corporate strategy.
This mindset is particularly problematic when it comes to responsibilities that are shared across multiple departments, lines of business, or geographies. The customer experience is one such responsibility.
In mature markets where customers have a wealth of providers to choose from, CX has become one of the greatest sources of competitive edge for leading businesses. In fact, in a recent CSA Research survey of executives and managers at more than 300 global firms, 45% of respondents placed GCX as a top-three business priority, surpassing every other initiative. [1]
GCX is the key to building brand loyalty on a global scale, and the key to successful GCX is an effective, cohesive customer journey. But when content is authored in silos, inconsistencies become almost unavoidable. These weaknesses in the source English are then passed onto the localized versions, undermining the customer experience globally.

Silos waste time and resources

Siloed content creation can also lead to immense levels of waste – both in terms of time and money. Different departments frequently require similar or identical content, but if they work in silos, they might not know that their needs overlap. This avoidable lack of awareness can result in unnecessary duplication of effort, with multiple departments each authoring content where a single, consolidated version would have sufficed (and indeed would be preferable for the end user to avoid inconsistency and confusion). The problem is only compounded when it comes to localization, as each document requires its own translation – multiplying the wasted effort and resulting cost.

The solution – centralize global content oversight

To build a cohesive customer journey, it’s crucial to gain oversight into your content needs across business lines and develop a cross-departmental approach to content creation.
In our experience, the best way to overcome the silo mindset is to implement a central GCX hub through which all content flows. Ideally, this should be headed up by a chief customer experience officer (CCXO) or chief global content officer – an executive that can champion GCX priorities at a high level. Alongside the hub, we recommend placing customer experience colleagues in every relevant department to encourage collaboration.
This approach aligns with CSA Research’s findings that companies without a central CX hub are advancing their global customer experience initiatives at a much slower pace – with 70% of these organizations still yet to even define a GCX vision.[2]
While CX hubs and CCXOs are becoming increasingly prevalent, not every business is in a position to enact this kind of organizational transformation. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t immediate steps that can be taken to improve the situation. The best place to start is fostering better communication between departments. At Rubric, for example, we often organize workshops with various departments that might not normally interact – helping both us and them gain a holistic understanding of the business’ global content landscape and localization needs.
Another step you can take is to align KPIs across departments. For instance, you could set a target for reducing the number of user complaints. This would mean different things for different teams – improving the website search function, embedding working links across content, or standardizing terminology – but would ultimately ensure that each business unit was working towards a common goal.

Drive consistency with tools

From an authoring perspective, a Product Information Management (PIM) system is one of the most effective tools for maximizing consistency and content reuse when used across an organization. A PIM system is a single source of truth for all product-related information, enabling content to be authored once and then redeployed by any department that needs it.
Also consider other potential mechanisms to author once and re-use. Examples include shared content repositories, cross-content checks and leveraging when authoring, and use of authoring software that re-uses snippets of repeated content.
Style guides and glossaries are also invaluable for helping writers in different teams standardize nomenclature, tone, and formatting. And at the localization stage, content reuse can be further supported by sharing translation memories across the business.
[1] CSA Research, The State of Global Customer Experience, p.9-10.
[2] CSA Research, The State of Global Customer Experience, p.38-39.

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