You can feel it when your car’s alignment is off. Even though you’re the one in the driver’s seat, you still get the sense you’re not fully in control. And while you’ll probably get where you’re going in one piece, it may not be the most comfortable ride you’ve ever taken – and it might even do some damage to your car.
The same thing can be said when your business isn’t in alignment. Your prospects may still buy your product, and they might still find it useful, but the experience they have with your company may not be as positive as you want it to be. Or, worst case scenario, it can be downright negative and cause damage to your reputation.
In this installment of Conversations from the Corner Office, we spoke with ID Plans CRO Seth Garber about alignment – why it’s important, what can happen if you don’t have it, and the benefits it can bring to your organization. As usual, he had a lot to say!
SG: When I think of alignment, it’s really about the customer’s journey from the day they engage with us all the way through to when they become raving fans. How do you achieve that goal? How do you get people to work together? How do you implement a talk track so everyone says the same thing, talks the same way, acts the same way, and uses the same language? How do you connect the data or the metrics interdepartmentally, and what do the metrics mean to different members of your team? Another component is making sure your team has a thorough understanding of the direction of the company and a narrow focus to ensure everyone is moving the same way.
SG: It’s similar, but alignment takes it a step further. It focuses on how departments interact with each other so the customer journey is successful and consistent.
SG: If you’re working with an organization that doesn’t have a component of alignment, it creates a couple of potential issues. There can be confusion on the benefit of the product. The customer could decide how they’re going to use the product instead of having us tell them and they may not know the best use and get frustrated and give up. Not having alignment can also create a potential mistrust in what you’re talking with them about. You could lose the customer because they’re getting told different things by people in different departments. You need to have that consistent message coming from everyone.
SG: From a leadership standpoint, you have to spend the time to really look at this issue. You might think just because you tell your team what they should be doing to maintain consistency that they’re actually doing it, and that may not be the case. I like to deploy mystery shoppers so I can get a true sense of the customer experience. I’ll have a “prospect” reach out and go through the process and provide me feedback on what their experience is.
On the other side, if you think about the finance fundamentals, there are a few things that can indicate you’re out of alignment. It can show up in your NPS score. You’ll see increased churn. You can see it in the lead qualification process and whether leads are actually converting.
SG: “Most” is very broad. Companies face different issues depending on maturity as a business. A startup is typically driven by passion. Medium-sized businesses have to transition to driving their language, culture and education of their team. They need to look at the true customer journey, think about customer personas and make sure each of them is following the same path. I do think every company struggles with alignment from time to time and across departments. It’s up to leadership to check in with their team regularly to make sure they’re providing a consistent message, and to also talk with customers and get their feedback.
SG: One of things I focus on is getting a full understanding of the customer journey, from learning about them as a prospect to becoming a customer and the engagement we have with them after that. Then, you have to get your department heads to understand what their real roles are versus their perceived roles, and make sure they have a strong awareness and vision of where we’re going as a company. I also like to do department alignment meetings to create transparency and a build better understanding of what each team does. We generate some great ideas through collaboration and sometimes we’re able to eliminate unnecessary processes and create new and better ones.
SG: It comes back to individual contributors needing to understand where we’re going and that everything they do matters and contributes to the bigger picture, even if they don’t necessarily see it. Also, it’s fine when people create their own initiatives – we welcome new ideas – but you always want to make sure what you’re doing ties back to the customer journey.
SG: Number one is that you create raving fans. You have customers who love and trust you as an organization. When you ask them how they feel about your company, they’ll say they’ve had the best experience ever and feel compelled to bring you up in conversation.
The other component is alleviation of stress within the company. The closer you get to alignment, the more your teams and department understand where they’re going, why they’re doing what they’re doing, and it helps them feel supported. Basically, the whole organization becomes more efficient, which can really help your bottom line and make your financial ratios look great.
How does your organization promote alignment? Leave your comments below.
ID Plans provides innovative software solutions for commercial real estate professionals. To learn more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org