Let the information silos fall for the sake of your customer relationships

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James Frampton, Senior Vice President and General Manager EMEA for SugarCRM, explains why organisation leaders should let information silos fall for the sake of customer relationships.

Information silos, organisational silos, the ‘silo effect’, whatever you want to call it when separate departments or teams within an organisation cannot communicate or share data, and that information is trapped, the whole business suffers, including the bottom line. Without a ‘high-definition picture’ of a customer, accessible by all who need it within the organisation, you cannot deliver them an exceptional experience. And make no mistake, this is happening right now, at a significant number of organisations up and down the country. Possibly even in yours. 

To put the problem into numbers, SugarCRM’s recent research found that 50% of sales leaders admit that they cannot access customer data across marketing, sales, and service systems, leaving customer-facing team members without a clear picture of their customers.

This means their sales reps are only spending 54% of their time selling, which has led to over half (56%) reporting their customer churn increased in the last 12 months and almost half (48%) not knowing why customers churned! That means there’s a one in two chance your business is suffering from this problem to a greater or lesser extent. Ultimately, the report found that customer churn is costing mid-market companies an average of £3.9M per year each. 

In a world where technology was supposed to make the customer experience easier to manage, why are organisations facing this customer relationship crisis? Unfortunately, CX platforms are themselves part of the problem they seek to resolve. Sugar’s research found that 53% of sales leaders are fatigued and frustrated with the CRM admin burden placed on their sales teams. In addition, these high-maintenance platforms constantly require feeding, which is taking staff away from actually engaging with customers.

Letting the silos fall

It’s time then, that we let the information silos fall, say goodbye to spreadsheet city and release the data out of hiding – for the good of your customer, and your organisation. We need to create a world where companies cultivate customers for life by anticipating and fulfilling needs before customers realise they have them. We need more preventative and less reactive. But how can your CRM systems possibly predict the future when it doesn’t even know what your customer did last year?

By uniting customer data and identifying and filling any gaps whilst pairing it with the right technology, business leaders can acquire the intelligence they need to make vital strategic and tactical decisions. The ultimate aim here is to improve retention, increase revenue, and gain more predictable business outcomes. 

Knocking down the barriers

Easier said than done, though, right? So how do you know where to start? I appreciate that CRM systems are often deeply ingrained within your company’s wider systems and processes. If it were such an easy fix, there wouldn’t be 48% of sales professionals out there believing their systems are unfit for purpose. So here are three key considerations to help you interrogate and improve your systems and ultimately your customer’s experience:

  1. No blind spots – You need to instantly see all the relevant information about your customer, including the past, present, and even future (with predictive insights), rather than being limited to piecemeal views of the customer, often siloed across the organisation. There’s nothing worse for a customer than having to start over again each time they touch base with your organisation. From a business point of view, you want to see the full picture of that person to create that long-term relationship. So many CRM systems are unable to look back on a customer’s history – it’s crazy. Look at how you can take a sledgehammer to the walls that divide and hold your data back. Remove those blind spots.
  • No busywork – Technology should help make people’s jobs easier, not harder. Instead, sales, marketing and customer services staff are having to manually enter endless customer details, which is taking them away from doing tasks that really make a difference. It’s also opening your organisation up to human error. You need to be able to automatically capture data and present it in context to everyone who needs it.
  • No roadblocks – You need to build a solution around your needs and workflows instead of settling for a standard ‘out of the box’ solution with all the standard limitations of not knowing how your business or even your industry works. Once upon a time, this would have been prohibitively costly, but not any more. Your business is unique, and so are your customer needs, so why let a generic solution get between you?

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Organisations need a clear and unified view of the customer to squash the status quo, make the hard things easier and deliver a high-definition customer experience (HD-CX). Advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence are now making accurate predictions on customers’ future wants, needs, and behaviours, but only if the right foundations are there. AI cannot work miracles, and feeding it poor, piecemeal, or outdated data will yield similarly imprecise results. Only by having the right technology in place and letting it do the work can you deliver the types of experiences customers are craving, anticipate their needs and secure your company’s future. If you don’t, then you can guarantee one of your competitors will, if they haven’t already. 

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Luke Conrad

Technology & Marketing Enthusiast

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