Organize your teams by function, not channel

Christy Kirby, Product Marketing Manager, Khoros Marketing Solution

For many brands, the customer journey is rapidly changing as digital channels play a more significant role in the process. Business outcomes improve when brands adopt a wider range of channels that support digital customer engagement — online communities, SMS, social media, and many others. This means brands are rushing to incorporate a wide variety of channels as quickly as they can.

Unfortunately, changes to organizational structures don’t always keep pace with the new channels and adapted processes that benefit customers. Marketers often struggle to keep up with constantly changing customer needs, and 87% believe that over the next few years, these shifts will become even more common.

So, where do you start when you need to re-organize your teams by function instead of channel? Here are some of the best practices we’re seeing from our customers and in the market.

1. Define your customers’ channels of choice

The first step is to gather knowledge. Your customers will prefer to use certain channels, and you need to know which ones so that you can meet them where they want to be. Social listening is a great place to start.

The digital channels guide

With an advanced social listening solution, you can get a pulse on conversations about your brand, products, or industry on social media platforms across the globe (and in multiple languages). This will help keep your brand in lockstep with the competition, and also up-to-date on the latest trends among consumers. It’s invaluable information for any brand trying to modernize.

Still, not all your customers will prefer using social media. You should also audit your online brand community, email communications, messaging accounts, chat volume, phone support, and any other places where you interact with customers. Ignoring these channels can lead to incomplete and potentially misleading data. Define each channel’s purpose based on volume of inbound activity, popular topics and use cases for each channel, and overall usage by your teams for engagement. The final step is to take the findings from the audit of your digital channels and map their usage to your company’s business objectives. For example, rank channels that are most commonly used (and successful) at driving growth and awareness, and others that are best at service and customer retention. This will give you a framework for priorities on how each channel is used and staffed.

Now that we have this context, we can look at the folks that need to be involved to support these channels by their use case.

2. Map roles and responsibilities by function

Okay, so you’ve identified the channels your customers prefer and started integrating them into the customer journey. Now what?

It’s time to talk to your stakeholders — the people in your organization handling customer engagement every day. Work with your marketing, sales, customer success, customer service, and community management teams to create a detailed outline of the customer journey, including any areas of overlap. Use the conversation to brainstorm areas for increased performance and efficiency: Are you duplicating efforts? Not reaching customers at the right times? Not creating the right content on the right channels to drive growth? Does your brand voice lose clarify from channel to channel or department by department?

Tip: These questions aren’t only important at the beginning of the process. In order to stay flexible and agile in engaging customers, you need to be sourcing this kind of feedback consistently, even after you feel your digital transformation is complete. Discuss a cadence that works for your team to review and revise these roles, routinely.

Take what you’ve learned about your organization and leverage it to create a new model that clearly defines owners, collaborators, and process. We recommend adopting a system like the RACI model for mapping who owns what part of a process, who gives input, and who is simply informed:

RResponsible — People working to complete the task.
AAccountable — People who ultimately answer for the task’s thorough and correct completion.
CConsulted — People, usually subject matter experts or leaders, whose opinions are sought in order to complete the task.
IInformed — People who are kept up-to-date on the task’s progress.

Whether you adopt this exact model or not, make sure you’re clearly outlining who does what when it comes to customer engagement. Make sure you’re taking into consideration all the information you learned when you spoke to your stakeholders so that you can set reasonable expectations and also meet business goals and objectives. It will also help to have C-suite buy-in to ensure needs are understood and properly addressed.

3. Determine internal operational changes

Inevitably, some things will need to change whenever you incorporate new channels or significantly alter mapping teams to your customer journey. With your newly mapped structure from the previous step, review your SOPs (standard operating procedures), channel and account access, technology permissions, playbooks, guides, etc. That way, you can ensure that new or altered roles and responsibilities are documented.

You’ll need to loop in department leads, perhaps through training sessions, to ensure understanding and flag changes. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page with the transition, and that leadership is kept updated as it progresses. The last thing you want is to spend time and energy on operational changes only to have them fall flat because team leads weren’t properly trained or even aware.

Cross-team collaboration is also vital to the success of any restructuring, large or small. One way to encourage active collaboration is to host cross-department “drills” and run-throughs to practice new operational strategies and tactics to ensure understanding. The success (or lack thereof) of these drills will give you important feedback and help avoid bumps or roadblocks when teams interact with real customers.

Finally, consider having stakeholders meet regularly (typically either quarterly or biannually) to collect feedback and make sure the new team structure is serving its intended purpose. This way, you can fine-tune and update along the way, rather than having to make wholesale changes after longer periods.

4. Adopt (or adapt) software to fit your new structure

The right workflow and organizational structure are only as effective as the tech that powers them. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your current tech stack empowers you to track success, adoption, and business outcomes across teams. If you use multiple solutions to engage your customers, make sure they’re working together.

As a best practice, adopt a solution that multiple teams can use, so that information is readily available across multiple teams and departments. This provides several benefits, the greatest being better efficiency with shared workflows. A cross-team solution uses shared metrics to improve visibility into results. It also created a better experience for customers, with consistent engagement (no matter which department they engage with) to build trust with your brand. Finally, a cross-team solution can improve security and ensure compliance with advanced governance capabilities. As Gartner reports, 25% of organizations will combine marketing, sales, and CX into a single function within the next two years. Having partners and tech platforms that embrace this vision of consolidated customer engagement is a worthwhile investment into future growth.

When you’re selecting software, it’s important to remember that you’re choosing a partner as well as a tool. These days, regular check-ins from your technology partner are essential, not just a nice-to-have. Your partner is probably asking for regular updates (they certainly should be) — but if they’re not, be sure to inform them of any operational changes so they can provide you strategic advice on how to get the most from your investment. This will ensure you’re getting the most out of your tools as your brand evolves to better serve your existing customers, and win new ones.

If you find gaps, or if your solutions are no longer working with your improved structure, it may be time to consider an RFP or RFI to learn more about other options.

Discover the value of adapting your team with the Khoros Marketing ROI Calculator.

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