In a previous blog post on Digital Experience Intelligence (DXI) for Enterprise, I shared a high-level overview of three traits that distinguish the companies best able to take action to improve digital experience. The companies that succeed are:
Guided by customer-focused decision-making
Tracking and acting on revenue-based metrics
Cross-functional and collaboratively organized
We’ve already discussed the first two traits of DXI-readiness: following the money trail of DXI insights and focusing on customers to guide decisions that matter.
In this article, we’ll explore the cross-functional team structures that are most effective for digital experience improvements.
The right team structure makes a huge difference
Digital experience is directly connected to customer happiness and revenue opportunities. Turning DX insights into action depends a team's ability to advocate for customers, and how a company prioritizes those customer needs.
Even if you make all of the right prioritization decisions, an ineffective team structure will cause you to struggle to make the desired impact. While I firmly believe that any individual—on any team and at any level within a company—can make a difference advocating for DX actions, having the right team structure is a critical factor.
Across large companies with a stated focus on digital experience, I’ve seen many models of team structures. Some are happenstance, as teams organically decide to pick up and use FullStory, and others are carefully designed and planned.
By and large, the companies that stick to departmental boundaries—and are therefore limited to those narrower KPIs and coworkers—struggle the most to connect the dots to get desired outcomes. If the people in your company who are tasked with understanding your customers never speak to your design and development teams, it’s awfully difficult to break down those communication barriers in the name of DX (or anything for that matter).
While we can all generally agree that silos are bad and collaboration is good, there are several cross-functional team structures that emerge most frequently. Each has its advantages and potential setbacks, but all three of the following models can give you a DX advantage and position your organization to make the most of FullStory.
Many companies find success leaning on product teams to bridge customer needs, strategic business direction, and customer happiness. Product Managers tend to be adept at translating sentiments into technical roadmaps and efficiently prioritizing upgrades and new development.
DXI insights led by a product team often find more direct paths to making a difference in the digital experience. Conversion rates, friction events, and journey maps are closely tied to what a product team already cares about, so their existing communication paths to customer-facing teams and technical resources allow for context-sharing and taking action on data.
Not all product teams are as versatile or comprehensive as what I've just described. Some teams can get narrowly focused on specific feature releases, and if the digital property is large enough, product teams may be too specialized to see big-picture company metrics. These teams are still effective at improving the scope of the site they’re working on, but may need additional encouragement to:
Focus on customers in decision-making processes, and
Tie outcomes to revenue opportunities, rather than only measuring conversions on the small piece of the funnel within their scope.
For companies without a standing Product team, or with a specific and immediate need, forming a cross-functional task force can be an excellent strategy.
Often these “task force”-style teams can tackle thorny problems that do not have a clear source or root cause—often dilemmas that are a great fit for DXI insights. One great example is a company who saw month-over-month declines in new user registrations. Customers were starting and abandoning the process, but no one could figure out why. A task force of UX researchers, performance engineers, design specialists, and others came together to examine the problem and propose solutions. They were able to use FullStory to test hypotheses, find specific user problems, quantify issues to prioritize relevant changes, and ultimately correct the problem.
Often, diverting a cross-functional team of expert resources takes a compelling reason—usually one that’s a major problem for your company. As task forces are laser-focused on the problem at hand, it’s critical for them to prioritize and only work on items in the scope of their mandate. However, digital experience isn’t relegated to just one page or one flow. Just like any of our individual experiences online, it’s far more complicated and connected than that. Given a task force’s need to race to find the solutions to the problem at hand, they often don’t have the time or bandwidth to understand the big picture and can't connect the dots to accomplish holistic and sustainable solutions.
Center of Excellence
Often formed on a volunteer basis, a Center of Excellence (CoE) represents cross-functional leaders and analysts who care about best practices for achieving a given outcome. These teams meet regularly to serve as a central conduit of information out to their respective teams. Unlike a task force, members of a CoE maintain their functional assignments, and their participation in the CoE initiative is a smaller time commitment.
Of all three models, a Center of Excellence requires the least overhead to set up. No org changes are required and no resources are diverted, but ideally all involved are committed to expanding their knowledge and making an impact on digital experience initiatives, both within their own domain and across the company. Especially if you’re just starting with FullStory, all that’s really required is finding people who are dedicated to solving related problems, having them attend basic training, and then regrouping to discuss findings and opportunities. It can assemble as infrequently as once a month, but ideally meets more often and integrates DX CoE work into the body of each members’ role. When done well, a CoE isn’t a diversion from daily priorities, but rather connects the dots to make each member's work more efficient and effective.
Not surprisingly, what a company gets out of its DX CoE depends on what each member puts into it. This requires getting buy-in not only from individuals, but also their managers. It’s also important to align the priorities of a CoE to its constituents’ work. If no one from the Product team, for example, wants to join, the CoE shouldn’t try to compensate for that and make outside recommendations to the Product team. Rather, the CoE will be more effective by sticking to its members’ areas of expertise. If a CoE lacks ample cross-functional knowledge, is not aligned to the right priorities, or is not given enough time, it can devolve into yet another inefficient meeting on the calendar and erode trust in the effectiveness of DXI.
Regardless which model your company uses, or whether it’s a hybrid of all of the above, the key is collaboration and disciplined decision-making.
Talk to others when forming hypotheses, and gut-check your findings with colleagues with different perspectives to see how they resonate. Chances are, if you work together, focus on the customer, and tie your recommendations to revenue, you’ll be able to make a major impact for your company and your customers.