Why businesses are increasingly communicating in silos, creating a disconnected customer experience

Why businesses are increasingly communicating in silos, creating a disconnected customer experience

Recent research from Digitas UK has shown that 9 out of every 10 people in the UK agree that we are more disconnected as a society than ever before.

Matt Holt, Digitas UK Chief Strategy Officer (see main image), describes a context for the finding that, despite all our interlocked customer systems, has seen the world become “divided by screens, borders, politics, and religion.”

That disconnection is also seen in businesses as they struggle with silos, meaning the customer experience is often disconnected.

The problem is that people are demanding connected experiences like never before. However, according to the same Digitas research, 81% of them agree that brands are not making meaningful connections.

A new experience model

Valeria Corna, Strategy Director within Digitas’ Experience Consultancy team, reveals how the insights highlighted that the primary drivers of customer satisfaction when it comes to experience are the same in the hospitality sector as in the energy category – emotion, coherence, ease, and usefulness.

She outlines how emotion – “the capability of a brand to trigger positive feeling in its customers at every interaction” – involves considering customers’ emotional responses along a spectrum including: your employees, your digital properties and, finally, intelligent agents.

In terms of maximising the impact of your own people, Valeria highlghts Zappos, the online retailer, and how it has set a mission to “wow” customers through great customer service, but is letting its employees define what wow means and how to achieve it.

The Airbnb example

Turning to the importance of providing coherence and consistently delivering on a brand’s promise, Valeria focuses on the hospitality industry. She says that the worst performer in this specific dimension, amongst the brands researched by Digitas, was Airbnb.

The company’s brand promise, ‘belonging anywhere’, is bold and distinctive but not backed up by an equally relevant experience, according to the customers surveyed. Airbnb performance resulted below those of other hotel brands along a number of experience dimensions, including usefulness, ease, and empathy.

“Clearly, handing over control of a guest’s say comes with a price,” she says.

Airbnb hands over control of guest experiences at a price

There is another reason however that could explain why Airbnb’s experience performance is worse than that of hotel brands surveyed: hotel brands have now adapted very well to the changes and disruptions that Airbnb has brought to the industry.

She cites Airbnb experiences as an example and shows how other hotel brands, like Belmond, launched a similar offering whilst connecting it to the company’s brand heritage.

Losing track of what consumers want

Offering her insights on the research at a recent panel discussion in London, Gillian Tett, Author of The Silo Effect, said, “Often the things we focus on as suppliers of services are our own sense of ordering the world. We often lose track of what consumers want, and the way they think.

“We have to spend time immersing ourselves as anthropologists, as listeners, and understand what consumers want. Take Airbnb – is it actually providing what consumers want? Are hotels? Finding the answers requires listening and taking away our preconceptions,” she says.