Breaking down silos: 3 strategies for winning the digital customer experience race
By Ed Burek, director of solutions marketing, SiteSpect
We are over halfway through 2017 and 23 retailers have already filed for bankruptcy. While many have implemented ecommerce strategies and transitioned to an omnichannel approach, they're still struggling to generate revenue from digital properties. Retailers are not blind or lost, they know what customers want — immediate gratification from an experience — but they can't find the right solution to provide that experience. The answer to this critical issue lies in their approach to customer experience.
If retailers want to keep up with the likes of Amazon, which excels at providing that immediate gratification, they need to begin by addressing the very blueprint they operate on. The biggest problem for today's retailers is that they're trapped in a siloed organizational structure. This approach fractures the customer journey, driving focus away from the customer and toward disparate departmental incentives. In the digital age, retailers need to breakdown the silos, unify departmental goals and data while creating an ecommerce plan that truly reflects the needs of the customer.
While the customer experience is a common priority for all departments, different silos of a business currently focus on different goals, creating internal roadblocks and mistakes. Instead, retailers need to implement a new, more agile business structure. By unifying departmental incentives, stressing collaboration and prioritizing testing to optimize and monetize the digital customer experience, retailers can create a united front for their organization and start to take on Amazon.
The customer is king
In the digital age, all departments must be on the same page. Unfortunately, too many businesses have yet to break out of internal silos, leading to confusion and tension within the organization. The siloed approach incentivizes each department to have its own particular goals for improving the customer experience — often forcing them to work against, rather than with each other. The first step in breaking down the silos is setting a definitive, unified objective.
For any retailer, the main objective is getting customers to buy its products, plain and simple. Though the battleground has shifted from brick-and-mortar to an online customer experience, it is still the front line for generating revenue. Retailers must unify every business unit around the goal of driving revenue through more effective customer experiences. It does not matter if it's IT, marketing or sales, everyone needs to be focused on optimizing the entire digital experience and getting customers to the checkout line. But, it has to be a team effort — no one department can do this alone.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Departmental collaboration is key to creating an agile business structure. Each department has a unique line of sight on the customer journey and those perspectives are best used in concert with one another to create a customer experience that is both intuitive and structurally sound. Obtaining a holistic view of the customer journey — from the front-end look and feel to the back-end functionality — is critical to creating a compelling customer experience and this objective can be accomplished successfully through collaboration.
For example, if IT is hyper-focused on building a tight, organized network infrastructure without consulting marketing on how it might affect the fluidity of the customer experience, the retailer risks building something that creates roadblocks for the customer journey — therefore threatening the potential purchase. Conversely, if marketing designs a landing page for a promotion that is only aligned to meet their metrics, it risks creating a jumbled mess on the backend.
The last thing a business needs is departments keeping each other in the dark. Collaboration with a unified goal can clear up the tangles and tensions created by a siloed approach, setting the stage for cutting-edge testing tools that can supercharge the customer experience.
Practice makes perfect
Ecommerce is much like drag racing — it's what's under the hood that matters most. Not fully optimizing your website is like lining up a minivan against a turbocharged sports car, that minivan will never win. Customers expect a fast, personalized shopping experience online, and, without testing, retailers will be left in the dust.
Testing turbo-charges the customer experience. Using machine learning to deploy "experiments" in the flow of traffic allows retailers to monitor and target visitor activity on their website or application. By analyzing behaviors, retailers can better understand shoppers' needs and optimize their digital properties to drive purchases and improve ROI.
Furthermore, retailers can also implement server-side testing, which looks at the back-end functionality of a site to provide an extra boost and garner that additional insight needed to pull away from the pack. When it comes to optimizing across all digital touch points, testing is the supercharger that can launch a retailer to victory.
The maxim "the customer is always right" holds more significance now than ever before. If retailers want to capture more customers and give the online giants like Amazon a run for their money, they'll need to breakdown the traditional silos and optimize their digital experience — only then will they have a chance to disrupt the disruptor.