Information Centrality: Creating a Closed-Loop System of Communication
Product to market is a lengthy path.
Different teams from concept, to design, to manufacturing, to field trails, to training, to product launch, to market—the process makes you think twice about the adverse effects of silos of information.
And in large, growing companies, this problem is nothing new.
You have dramatically different and growing teams, with different goals, different lenses, different proficiencies, different workflows, and different access points to information…all while product complexity increases. But, when dealing with products, consistent information on emerging and reiterations of products is key to ultimately best serving your internal teams and external customers.
How do you solve this silo dilemma? How do all teams—from the development thread to customer thread—live on the same page? And how do you translate this as valuable educational content to customers?
When it comes to supporting overall business goals, information centrality within a closed-loop communication system is vital. Not only does this get everyone of the same page, it allows for continuous improvements.
Enough of the vague concepts…how do you get this done? (And it certainly doesn’t happen overnight.)
Create a strategy. Create a process.
First, identify what organizations need integrations. Recognize talent, utilizing knowledge and content that is beneficial to other business units. When identifying these integrations, consider two areas of focus: product development and service/sales/marketing-related functions. Who’s creating these products and who’s communicating this product information to customers? There needs to be a bridge, collecting and translating information in a way that best serves the needs of the teams closest to the customer target audience.
Second, identify what platforms need democratized. Centralizing information in a space that is easily accessible, timely, relevant, organized, and searchable. The chosen platforms, essentially serving as content repositories, depends on the purpose of the information and the audience for whom it is intended. Do your sales teams need timely training on new product releases? Do your service teams need a platform to record customer feedback? Consider permission level settings and forms of content. The ultimate goal is to make sure every team, every communication channel, and every employee, is presenting the same information to the customer base.
Third, work on closing the communication loop. In a closed-loop system of communication, the customer provides feedback. The feedback is stored in a technology platform. Appropriate channels are then alerted through built-in automation triggers to ensure effectiveness and timeliness. Data visualization can also be incorporated here to detect customer feedback trends. Next, the root cause of the problem is identified. The problem could be anywhere from a product flaw, to a need for more educational content on installation and troubleshooting. The company then adjusts to fix the root cause of the problem, coming back to the customer with a solution.
Information centrality and closing the communication loop is a slow process, but worth pursuing. It’s an opportunity to clear confusion, to get everyone on the same page within your company, and, ultimately, to better serve your target audience.
Rachel Batdorff is a Technical Content Specialist within the Product Marketing organization of Franklin Electric, based in the Fort Wayne, Ind. area. Franklin Electric is a global leader in the production and marketing of systems and components for the movement of water and automotive fuels. Rachel is a member of the PRSA Northeast Indiana Hoosier Chapter Steering Committee, and the PRSA Hoosier Chapter Social Media Committee.