Creating the space for teams to collaborate

Editor’s note: Dave Carruthers is co-founder and CEO of Voxpopme, a video survey software company. 

As Google’s Eva Tsai said, “Understanding the customer really has to be ingrained in everyone’s day-to-day.”

So true, but how can cross-functional teams understand customers better? And not just the ones they interact with themselves.

Indeed, everyone can understand the customer in their corner of the world. For example, customer success managers understand their groups of clients. Tech support certainly talks to plenty of customers with problems. Even executives should understand their customers.

“When I talk with executives, they often don't leave the office or talk with customers," said Graham Kenny, managing director, Strategic Factors. As they say, it starts at the top. So, if executives don’t have an easy way to understand people, how can that happen across the organization?

To make cross-collaboration in a company a success at a basic level, it comes down to two things:

  • The right culture.
  • Best use of available resources.

Let’s dive into each of those a bit here.

Creating the right culture

In the wrong culture, collaboration won’t happen. Instead, people hold on to silos, power struggles ensue and backstabbing meetings after meetings are common.

The right culture is undoubtedly a mix of leadership and the right people in the organization.

Ryan Barry, president of Zappi, said when he looks for team members today, he looks for these skill sets:

  • A growth mind-set. Are they constantly looking to improve?
  • Coachability.
  • Understanding the business impact of what they are doing.
  • They make working with them easy.
  • Aim to become strategic partners to others.

Ryan said leadership must create the spaces for teams to collaborate and work together.

Best use of resources

Once the culture is in place, we must use the available resources well.

This certainly includes using the best market research tech stack for you but also includes efficient workflows. 

Evaluate the best workflows that help reach the best consumer insights to make business decisions.

As Joanna Lepore, strategic foresight lead at Mars Wrigley, said on “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show,” it’s necessary to set up systems and opportunities for teams to interact, share ideas and collaborate. A genuine effort needs to formalize that process, especially with remote teams or globally distributed companies. Consider:

  • A Slack channel around a topic.
  • Occasional learning sessions where different teams share highlights.
  • Monthly updates and questions asked of teams.
  • The sharing of information in a way that gets consumed.

For example, don’t send that lengthy PowerPoint with data that the team didn’t even need, said Ryan. Instead, share nuggets of consumer insights in a way that entices teams to remember them and want more of those types of tidbits.

“What sticks with people is when they hear a story,” said Elisabeth Trawinski, director of insights and analytics, Reckitt. “And when they are in somebody’s home, that sticks with people for years sometimes.”

Technology certainly plays a role.

Raj Manocha, EVP, Methodify, reminded us of the importance to determine what works best for your teams when you pick the right technology. Not what works best for others, but what tech stack makes sense for you and the teams that need access. 

Voxpopme Vice President of Research Brian Monschein, who has worked in the insights industry for two decades, said, Ease of use is foremost essential. Insights pros just don’t have the time to waste on technology that is hard to use.

And to truly make it a cross-functional collaboration, data transparency is essential, said Brenna Ivey, associate director, strategy and insights, Policygenius. Empower others to run their analysis and then offer your expertise where it can be most helpful.