Whether you are managing or have a role in a relatively large or small business, organizational silos have never been purposefully created. Silos have usually developed over time due to a lack of attention or concern or even growth. They’ve never been a goal in their own right.

Well, if you are in a customer focused business―and my guess is that includes just about everyone―then the importance of breaking down silos has grown exponentially over the last few years for two reasons:

  • The increasing complexity of the customer journey.
  • The rise of the Millennials.

Why Organizational Silos Are No Longer Acceptable (Were They Ever?)

Today’s potential customer contact points go way beyond the more linear, broadly based, and centrally controlled media devices and options like TV, magazines, newspapers, PR, and the final service or product experience.

They include more company to customer and customer to customer “Word of Mouth” or Internet opportunities from the likes of Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Snapchat, FaceTime, What’s App, and even LinkedIn and YouTube (to name a few). And what about customer to customer communications through Facebook and the ratings systems of Yelp! and TripAdvisor? Do you know where your customers got their information from before they step into or after they step out of your store or restaurant?

In a word, begin developing your own customer journey map (if you haven’t already) with all of its touch points. As the complexity of a customer’s journey to your product or service experience unfolds, the multitude of likely touch points will become evident. You will begin to understand the need for a “flatter” customer-centric organization, and the need to destroy operational silos will be clearer. And make sure you are covering the digital experience in particular.

Today’s marketers do their best to leverage these tools or “piggyback” on them to deliver the brand’s message. If they are really good, in my estimation, they use them to build relationships rather than just to trumpet offers. Today’s marketing also brings in the digital media options of digital advertising, remarketing, and retargeting.

The leading customer segment of 18 to 34-year-old Millennials wants their favorite brands to be authentic, available, transparent, and caring with personality. They want their discounts targeted to building a relationship, not just developing and turning in loyalty points. “Real” is a word that strikes me as relating to their overall goals and values.

Why does all this matter? Every touch point we have with our customers and guests has always mattered because every touch point is a chance to build on our relationship, a chance to create a competitive advantage through an endearing emotional connection. And it’s that customer relationship, for example, which is at the “tip of the spear” of my organic marketing model (following) connecting the business strategy for profit, the brand and culture for personality, and the customer experience for a memorable, emotional connection.

Organizational silos can disrupt customer engagment.

Knocking Down Your Organizational Silos

Creating an open and “siloless” organization remains important because improving the customer experience should be at the top of all our lists. A lack of coordination in a customer-centric organization risks either creating negative customer experiences or misses the opportunity to efficiently create synergistic business and revenue building wins that are there for the taking.

What does it take? Your efforts to knock down the organizational silos and get closer to really connecting to your customers require two things for starters:

Understanding Organizational Silos

  • A good, in-depth understanding of what your company and its brand are all about.
  • The full and ongoing commitment from the top, from your CEO or business leader whether you are in a large or small company.

Without a CEO’s full and ongoing commitment, an effort to break down your silos and reach out to your customers directly and authentically will not be successful. Breaking down the organizational silos is not an easy transformation, and it will require bold leadership. Your company leader or CEO is the one person who not only oversees all the organizational silos but also has the power to motivate the entire organization and recognize performance.