The Importance of Unified and Collaborative Working for CX Transformation

Mike Ashton
Posted: 05/17/2017

After his article on leadership conviction, customer experience expert Mike Ashton tackles the next pillar in a successful customer experience transformation: unified working.

Our research shows that delivering meaningful and sustained change to customer experience requires 3 distinct capability sets. In order of importance they are:

  • Leadership conviction
  • Unified working
  • Equipped, engaged & enables staff

In my last article I looked at how the first of these capabilities, leadership conviction, is a pre-requisite for the successful transformation of any multi-point customer experience and the translation of this investment into enhanced competitive positioning and commercial performance. In this article I’ll consider the second of these capabilities: unified working.

In practice, unified working means all employees, irrespective of department, seniority or role, understand HOW their organisation is improving the experience it delivers to customers, WHY this is important and WHAT they need to do to contribute to the improvement process.

Inspired by a shared vision of success and equipped with the skills and resources they need, teams from across a business are better able and more likely to collaborate on projects to improve customer experience.

However, all evidence shows that for this to succeed, it is imperative that the senior team exhibits the same unified approach and nurtures collaboration within and across departments. For directors this means:

  1. Deploying the right talent to projects that drive customer experience transformation
  2. Sharing ideas and best practice across teams to build knowledge, skills and culture
  3. Cultivating an ‘outside-in’ attitude so staff see the value and impact of what they do to customers

We’ve identified 3 building blocks that are critical to developing a unified, collaborative approach:

  1. Collaborative working processes
  2. Customer journey empathy
  3. Single customer view

You may want to use the following top-line diagnostic exercise to assess your organisation’s readiness and identify gaps to address.

1. Collaborative Working Processes

End game: We have a shared vision for our customer experience. Internal structures and hierarchies are not allowed to interfere with delivering the best experience for our customers. We make sure the right people work together on the right problems to transform our customer experience.

Score Strong/Average/Vulnerable against these statements with examples of typical behaviour:

  1. We encourage and enable our people to connect and collaborate as a first instinct, across the organisation and at all levels.
  2. Our processes, systems and way of managing make it easy to delivering our desired customer experience – and where we find barriers, we challenge and change them.
  3. It’s the expected and easy for our people to work collectively and combine their knowledge, skills and talent to transform our customer experience in new and exciting ways.


2. Customer Journey Empathy

End game: Every department in our organisation plays a key role in the overall customer journey and understands how their work impacts the customer experience. All leaders, managers and staff have a deep understanding the realities of how customers navigate and interact with our business and are passionate about the impact this has on people’s lives.

Score Strong/Average/Vulnerable against these statements with examples of typical behaviour:

  1. We have worked collaboratively to map our customer journeys by market, segment and/or brand and use this insight in our planning processes.
  2. We have analysed each touch-point in our customer journey, understand were value is created and eroded, and have robust, prioritised plans in place to transform the experience.
  3. We have measures and KPIs across our total customer experience and can identify shortfalls in performance and quantify the commercial impact on customer behaviour.


3. Single Customer View

End game: Our organisation has a clear, consolidated view of our customer(s), harnessing data and insight across multiple departments, functions and locations, to form a single, connected and evidence-based perspective of our customer experience performance and commercial impact.

Score Strong/Average/Vulnerable against these statements with examples of typical behaviour:

  1. All customer-facing systems are connected, from sales to customer service to CRM to marketing automation, providing a connected view of the total customer experience
  2. Data, analytics and metrics from individual customer interactions are combined across channels and operations
  3. Our systems support decision and action by putting real-time data where it needs to be


I’ve found using this diagnostic approach can be a powerful catalyst to prompting open and honest discussion among key stakeholders in the transformation process, particularly when accompanied by examples of ‘typical performance’ replacing subjective opinion with objective and realistic analysis.

This is even more potent when the financial consequences of under-performance (e.g. customer churn rates) are incorporated into the conversation. Good luck!

Mike Ashton
Posted: 05/17/2017