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How to Build One Team Around the Customer

New Research: Is CRM the Secret To Connecting Your Business Silos?

Customer-centric organisations have silos, too. This post explores how businesses can bring the right processes to life, and have clear designations of who’s doing what.

Peter Doolan is EVP of Digital Transformation & Innovation. He shares what it takes to change mindsets, overcome silos, and put the customer at the centre of the business.

Who owns customer centricity? Ultimately, everyone in your organisation does. That means collaboration must be your top priority.

In a previous article from this series, we talked about the need for customer-centric business processes, which lie at the heart of any customer-focused business. How do you bring these processes to life? You have to act as a unified team across silos so employees closest to the end customer are empowered to create enduring relationships.

Customer-centric companies have silos, too. They have clear designations of who’s doing what for efficiency. But they empower distinct departments to share, collaborate, and deliver integrated customer experiences — down to even the most junior employees.

Empower every employee to deliver the full force of the company

There is a good reason for silos: speed and efficiency. In the past, you could leave that statement and move on, confident in its accuracy. In today’s — and definitely tomorrow’s — digital world, rigid silos might be fast and efficient at repetition, but they are slow, expensive, and critical of change. To move your company from product-centric to customer-centric, you can keep silos but you have to advance them with new tools, new language, and new culture to ensure they become flexible, hyper-collaborative, and sensitive to customer needs.

What happens when customers have a poor experience with your brand? They speak to the first person they get from the company, and they don’t care what department the person is in. Unfortunately, and all too often, the customer ends up having to navigate the org chart to get what they want. Employees are simply not empowered and connected to serve the customer’s needs.

This requires us to abandon the top-down organisational structures we’ve inherited from the early 20th century, with rigid divisions between sales, service, marketing, and IT. And in a world where your customer is at the centre of your organisation, what the highest-paid person in an organisation wants may not be as important as what the customer wants.

It’s time for flexible, flatter, and empowered team structures.

team structures graphic

Customer-centric companies think carefully about the customer experience and develop a customer-first culture to improve it. They overlay this culture with the tools and information everyone needs to make it easy to collaborate across teams and departments in the service of the customer.  These same companies cultivate information transparency and celebrate team behaviour.

Thousands of our customers are born digital and customer-first. For them, the challenge is one of formalising the culture and collaboration tools as they scale. For thousands of larger companies, the issues are slightly different. They see immediate results, especially around NPS and CSAT scores when they formalise multidisciplinary teams dedicated to a location. This case study on T-Mobile shows how bringing together cross-functional teams delivers improved revenue, NPS scores, and customer retention.

Make a plan with internal stakeholders to get started

To start to make this discipline a reality, review your goals and KPIs with peers or departmental leaders outside your team — even those that don’t normally work together. Explore how you can help each other, and find goals you can share. Celebrate successes as a broader team as you step away from partitioned, traditional responsibilities.

Review the following list. How can you move from the department-specific approaches on the left to the customer-first set on the right? Have you listened to all perspectives, especially from those who are on the front lines with customers every day? Who is responsible for designing the end-to-end customer experience and where are the internal bottlenecks?

end-to-end customer experience graphic

To become a customer company, you must have the mindset to evolve your business model, culture, and organisation. One example is the Chief Technology Officer of Edelman Financial Engines, who evolved his department from functional product teams to “customer journey” teams.

Technology is only an enabling platform for change. The real transformation takes place when everyone within the organisation shares the commitment to place the customer at the centre of everything.

For more information on building your team around your customer, check out the customer 360 playbook.

Salesforce Asia resources page

This post originally appeared on the U.S.-version of the Salesforce blog.

Peter Doolan

Peter Doolan is EVP Digital Transformation and Innovation at Salesforce. He tweets at @peterdoolan.

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