I’m reading a great book on service design. It’s something I’m delighted to have stumbled across. Serendipity is a wonderful thing. The authors are at least 10-15 years into their game yet I only just found them. Even though I’ve been talking their language in a parallel world for years, they seem to have more focus and a better ‘sonic screwdriver’. So I’m learning fast.
They also have some great quotes. One of which serves perfectly for exploring an idea I’ve had lurking in the back of my mind for a few months now. They talk about how ‘gaps between silos that seem small from the provider’s point of view can accumulate to form experience crevasses for the customer’.
This is a profoundly well made point. We are still in the era of efficiency as opposed to effectiveness. The way organisations pursue this goal is to systematically atomise the world then take each piece and figure out how to get the best return aka lowest cost delivery.
This almost inevitably results in separate ownership and focus on isolated objectives. This is the start of why gaps turn into crevasses. These owners are rendered unconsciously incompetent since they are left unaware of the greater context in which they operate. Their mandate is just a slice of the full picture. Yet this remains the time honoured way in which we try and bring things under our control. For instance:
- Does a BPO partner providing voice based advisors get their outside-in impact? This is unlikely given the SLAs they are likely to have signed up for.
- Does an in-house chat team understand where they appear during a customer journey? Especially in organisations which have separate channel owners who are allowed to manage their operation as a cost centre aka power base?
- Is the ‘put it in the cloud’ SI partner able to see anything beyond API issues and associated performance issues when delivering interaction infrastructure?
Thus ‘services are often created in silos and experienced in bits’. Such players lack the vital context of understanding what the end user is trying to accomplish. More to the point, many will point out that they too are victim of system and workflows that are the product of silo organised design.
Is there a way out? Before giving my own idea on this, I want to tie in another theme which I see is also part of the issue.
Have you noticed the number of articles recently which explore the merging of functions to get over the silo issue? The most popular proposed marriage is that CTOs and CMOs get hitched. Not far behind are the recommended coupling of Sales and Marketing, Marketing and Customer Service. The list goes on. This internal M&A activity has caught the imagination of many and offers a way of saying that the future must be different.
This desire to evolve is also being explored in terms of changes to reporting lines. I’ve noticed this is a cause of much frustration for newer disciplines who feel they are not being understood. For instance I’ve just read an impassioned plea from UX industry leaders who want to make their contribution more effective. This involves them escaping Product and Marketing clutches through stronger CEO links and more expert executive sponsors who will therefore ‘get’ their value. [...]