Valid reasons exist for silos to be built and operate in organisations; regulatory and business focuses are two obvious examples. Silos also grow naturally as departments expand and companies evolve since an easy way to limit a department’s workload and maintain order is to create a silo! But silos rarely come without explicit or hidden costs. For example it can lead to activities being duplicated with different people in different departments doing the same fundamental activity.
And consider things from your customers’ viewpoint. In a digital age, customers are less likely to want to repeat themselves and re-establish security clearance each time they are passed from one department to another in a single phone call. Your systems should be able to pass the customer information along with each call transfer, increasing customer history as it passes from one agent to another. If your competitors provide customers with a seamless, effortless journey you know where they will go. Everyone loves the slogan; “one-stop shopping”, but do your systems allow this, or is it just a message that your marketing people insist upon?
It isn’t only customers that like joined up systems, so too do call center agents. The number one gripe from them is having to cope with disjointed processes that cause them to always be on the receiving end of customer vitriol.
Of course ripping out several systems and replacing them with a single joined up one is fraught and must rank in the stress charts alongside divorce and moving house. To add to the pain, this is not a one-off process. It is a continuous process and requires a very flexible approach to software architecture.
We know full well that pressures to provide upgrades and new systems in our industry mean that notions of flexible architecture and joined up solutions are often seen as luxuries. So the prizes may go to those who can just provide something that works quickly. Sometimes too, grand visions hold sway, but eventually lose buy-in because they simply take too long to implement.
Avoiding silos and giving customers a joined up solution isn’t easy. It does mean being demanding of your software provider, whoever they may be, so that you avoid the twin pitfalls of both silos and impractical visions.