An all too common problem, yet one that’s rarely addressed properly, is the misalignment between a company’s internal operations and its external customer experience. There’s an obvious focus on these areas individually, but the way a change in one area affects the other often gets overlooked. This leads to frustrated employees, unhappy customers, failure of new initiatives, or a combination of all three.
Most of the time, this misalignment arises from a failure to fully communicate what the goals are for a new change and how it will alter an employee’s workload internally or a customer’s experience externally. But, by understanding how these conflicts arise, you can take the necessary steps to bridge the gap in communication and increase the performance of your team.
Let’s explore these conflicts below.
Conflict #1: External Facing Operations Don’t Communicate Change to Internal Employees
The departments responsible for the customer journey are often disconnected from the employees that have to execute on customer demands. Areas such as marketing and sales focus on bringing the best experience to customers, but in doing so, they sometimes neglect to see how their actions will impact the business holistically.
- An eager sales team may throw in contract terms and agree to things that can’t really be performed by the internal team.
- The Marketing team might launch a promotion that the internal team doesn’t currently have the bandwidth to execute on properly.
- An executive has a bright new idea he or she wants to be implemented, but the time frame is simply unrealistic.
Businesses are constantly innovating, which is great, but changes need to be explained thoroughly to everyone involved. A lot of employees don’t inherently connect the dots between how higher up decisions affect them personally until the work suddenly hits them and they’re unsure how to move forward. Managers and supervisors must explain to their employees how their job will change and what the new expectations are instead of launching a new project and hoping their employees figure it out on their own. Always view the new change from the perspectives of the people most impacted, both internally and externally.
Conflict #2: Internal Operations Don’t Consider The Buyer Journey When Making a Change
When making organizational or structural changes, the end customer must always stay in mind. Though a certain change might seem necessary or more convenient internally, it doesn’t mean you’ll achieve better results when you consider the impact it has on customer experience and satisfaction.
Let’s say you shut down your midwest customer support office and outsource it overseas because it makes financial sense. When a repeat customer calls in for help, they may get confused because they’re not working with the same people or maybe the support isn’t at the caliber it was before. They also become upset because this change wasn’t communicated to them in any way. This single poor experience could cause a loyal customer to leave your business for good.
Change undoubtedly is necessary at times, but once again, it must be communicated to those it impacts. You need to think through how you can acclimate your customers to the change and be transparent about what you’re doing. Map out the customer journey, walk in their shoes, and make changes that will support their journey instead of sending it off course. This way, you can ensure that internal changes are well-aligned with the customer experience and don’t adversely affect your clients.
For example, one organization we worked with had a service recovery department, but their customer had to dig through seven or eight screens of information before they could even find an email address or a number to call. It was great that the organization created those dedicated communication paths, but it really aggravated customers to have to dig through so much information in order to find a method of contact. It sends the message that the organization doesn’t really value customers’ feedback or that they don’t want to hear any negative feedback.
Conflict #3: Internal Teams Are Misaligned
Most internal conflict arises out of poor communication. Sometimes an organizational goal only gets communicated to one team, leaving everyone else in the dark. Or it’s also common for the goal to be communicated to everyone, but each team interprets it differently. Both cases lead to misalignment which ultimately trickles up to your customers’ experience.
These situations can also become heightened when personality conflicts are involved. With people working on different teams, each team working toward its own agenda, and a lack of communication between these teams, it’s easy for people to get disgruntled with one another. There needs to be a level of trust built between teams, and finding common ground is a great place to start.
Digineer worked with a newly formed enterprise architecture group that the rest of the larger retail organization was at odds with. They were considered the last group you would want to work with because the group was secretive and wouldn’t explain why they would deny certain requests. So, it was apparent that there was a huge miscommunication issue internally that we were tasked with solving.
Luckily, the organization had a culture of networking and encouraged teams to share what they were doing. We saw this as an opportunity to help the architecture team be more transparent with what they were doing and shared it with the organization in a monthly one-pager. We also paid attention to people’s feedback and used it to make the group’s message more effective. By leveraging this communication channel using strategic messaging, we were able to engage the rest of the organization and alter the perception of the architecture group .
Tips for Organizations Dealing with These Issues:
Get Clear on Your Processes: Most organizations don’t have a good grasp of what their internal processes are. They might have something documented, but it’s not applicable to the daily functioning of the organization.
Understand how all teams fit into a current process and be sure to document and communicate any changes to the organization as a whole.
Perform a Gap Analysis: When implementing a change, you need to ask yourself, “What are we doing today that’s different from what we need to do tomorrow to bring this change to fruition?”
Understand your Customer’s Experience or Journey: Create a map of the Customer Journey. Walk-in their shoes to create it or act as your own “secret shopper” to see exactly what they experience. Link weak areas of the customer journey back to internal policies and processes and focus on internal improvements to elevate their journey with your organization.
Once you work through these steps, it’s time to put the necessary tools in place to help your team adopt and implement the new changes.
The relationship between organizational change and how it impacts employees, as well as customers, is one that needs to stay top of mind. When there are misalignment and a lack of communication between these channels, it leads to disgruntled employees, dissatisfied customers, and projects that may implement well technically, but they fail to achieve the targeted value or results.
Luckily, with a greater emphasis on communication and consideration of how change impacts an organization holistically, these conflicts can be avoided. Every situation is different, but the solutions outlined above are a great place to start when dealing with these issues.