Collaboration is Customer Experience

Recently I had a conversation with friends in Atlanta, Duane Cummings and Alan Schaefer about Collaboration and whether collaboration is innate or can be learned. Alan mentioned, “Think about what a detective would say to you during an interrogation….”So, you realize it’s in all of our best interests to cooperate.” Which is not usually the case. Notice how they don’t say, “Let’s collaborate.”

Our conversation got me thinking about customer experience at a tactical level.  In order to provide exceptional customer experience collaboration is required between sales, marketing, implementation and service.  One of the reasons that organizations are not great at customer experience is the lack of collaboration across functional areas that interact with their customers.  In this post, I would like to enact thinking about how you (and your organization) collaborate (or not) between marketing/sales and implementation/service.

From the beginning:

Think about when you were younger and you played sports, for example soccer, there was some instructions on the positions on the field and the rules of the game.  The coaches would run drills however there was probably little conversation of education about how to collaborate.  The coaches assume that the players understand that soccer is a team sport and therefore collaboration is expected.  As the season progresses, there are some players that will inherently understand and play in a collaborative manner and there are some players that  are less collaborative.  Another example would be anyone reading this article that has siblings, you have an innate sense to collaborate with your siblings (unfortunately I am an only child and therefore I not able to build the collaborative instinct through having siblings).

As we progress through the education system in the US, we are reward more for individual achievement vs collaborative teamwork.  While the education system does “try” to promote collaboration, our educational plans do not enable learning for collaboration.  Think about the highest award for high schools and college – it is an individual award – valedictorian.  One institution that I have seen take a different approach is Babson College.  The undergrad program from Babson promotes building and running a small business.  While this is closer to “enabling” collaboration, is collaboration really being taught?


As we move into the working world, organizations assume that you have been taught how to collaborate (you it is has been engrained in you form your family).  Think about what we just talked about above – we were never formally trained how to collaborate.  In business, collaboration is important not only internally but also externally.  How are business collaborating with their customers and the market?  Are business working “with” the market and their customers to understand how they would like to use your product or service?  There is a fine balance here to ensure your vision is executed while collaborating with your customers to ensure the value you promised, during the sales and marketing process, is being delivered.

Whether you are a leader or an individual contributor, analyze the places we were you are expecting collaboration, are you prepared to collaborate internally and externally?  Do you truly collaborate with your customers or do you just talk about collaboration because it sounds good?  If you are interested implementing a methodology on collaboration or you are interested in providing a truly unique experience for your organization take a look at Banding People Together.  Let me know your thoughts on collaboration by commenting below!

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