Silos and bureaucracy are ‘holding back’ customer experience, study finds

Departments such as IT and HR are regularly excluded from customer experience strategy planning, it was revealed at Marketing Week Live.

M&S has made incremental changes to improve customer experience in its food business

Organisational structures continue to hinder marketers’ ability to improve the customer experience, according to research unveiled at Marketing Week Live.

The study by Brand Learning finds most companies still fail to collaborate across business functions when implementing customer-facing strategies. Indeed, less than one in four IT functions are involved in customer experience strategy and planning, while a similarly low number of HR teams are involved.

“Everyone talks about cross-functional ways of working – lots of businesses claim to do it – but we found that a lot of silos still exist,” said Rich Bryson, group client and propositions director at Brand Learning.

“It was really surprising to hear there’s still so much work to do around breaking down those silos [given] how critical it is for you as a marketer.”

He was joined on-stage by Nathan Ansell, global director for loyalty, customer insight and analytics at Marks & Spencer, who argued that improving customer experience is an incremental process that requires buy-in from all business stakeholders.

This approach has been adopted within M&S’s fast-growing food business in recent years, he said, with the company focusing on everything from store layout to staff training in a bid to improve the customer experience.

READ MORE: M&S’s Nathan Ansell on proving the value of customer experience

Ansell claimed that as a result of this strategy, ­M&S’s stated aim to “make every food moment special” was resonating with customers. “If you walked into a store down the road in [London] Kensington and talked to [staff] about making every moment special, I can guarantee that our teams in those stores would know what you’re talking about and they’d have a sense of what they were doing that day to make things special for the customer,” he said.

“In that sense we feel like we’re making good progress.”



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  1. Mark Wheeler 10 Mar 2017

    I think marketing should start by fixing its own highly silo’ed approach before looking beyond its own walls at issues. As leaders we have a lot work to do; Focus around the customer, not channels, based on a single customer view (one database) that can deliver experiences in real-time by real marketers and not by a data scientist. Whilst cross-functional engagement is also critical, you need strong foundations and an agenda of transformation as expectations of customer experience are far from standing still and primarily won by a business growth agenda.

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