From siloed to strategic: A holistic approach to customer communication across the org (VB Spotlight)

Presented by Sendbird

Teams across the org need to work together to make customer communication efficient and effective. In this VB Spotlight event, learn how to manage and coordinate customer comms from every department to maximize delivery, open rates, conversions and more.

Watch free on demand here.

The marketing department has traditionally led the way in crafting effective customer communication for acquisition and retention, from developing message and tone to adopting the critical technology and tools that reach the consumer where and when they prefer. The difficulty ramps up when organizations recognize that customer communication is a function that spans teams and functions, whether it’s product managers realizing customers value messages about their orders to the operations teams that need to communicate about systems issues and alerts.

“When you think about all of these teams within a brand that want to communicate, the challenge becomes how do you coordinate across all of these tools,” says Shailesh Nalawadi, head of product at Sendbird. “And how do you make a SaaS communication tool, for instance, available across other departments and easy to use, when they’re specifically designed for marketers?”

A tool built for marketing communication doesn’t have the APIs required to plug into existing support workflows — and a support tool isn’t designed to send messages to customers on the same channels they receive other communication. On the customer’s side, company communication appears fractured, often inconsistent, and sometimes spammy, rather than the smooth, well-oiled customer retention and satisfaction engine it has the potential to be.

“To solve for this, organizations have to look at customer communications as a holistic issue,” Nalawadi says. “You bring all these teams together and look at it as not as a department-level issue, or even simply just a company issue, but a brand-level issue.”

Who should be in charge of the communication strategy?

The overall company goal for communication is customer satisfaction, but under that umbrella, every team still has its own crucial objectives and targets. The challenge that then emerges is coordinating goals and approaches across all of these departments. More importantly, perhaps, is deciding who is ultimately responsible for that experience. The marketing team has acquisition and revenue goals, while the support team is focused largely on net promoter scores and resolving issues quickly, and so on. So who should take on the overall strategy?

It often makes the most sense for product management and engineering to raise their hand and flag it as an important issue, since they’re the folks who tend to be the most concerned with user experience, first and foremost, Nalawadi says. Product managers are the ones already spending time looking at the mobile app and saying, how do I make every part of this experience, from the colors and wording on the buttons to the organization of the interface as delightful and easy to use as possible – and so of course messages from the brand to the user is part of that experience.

The second goal is to form a customer communications platform team within the org aimed at coordinating comms to ensure consistency and an on-brand experience. From there, it’s looking at the technical solutions that will allow this team to coordinate across all the messaging needs across the entire organization as a platform service.

“Depending on the size of the company, there’s a sweet spot in terms of companies that are relatively young that have good product teams that understand the brief and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, cobble together SaaS tools and integrate them across functions and workflows,” he adds. “That tends to be the determinant, whether the product engineering team is confident enough to say yes, we have the confidence and the mandate to step in and consolidate the messaging communications experience.”

Choosing the right communication channel

Product is also often the team that’s laser-focused on ways to improve how the company as a whole communicates, which includes choosing the right channel. For digital leaders today, that’s the mobile app. A controlled experience, on the device that customers have in their hand almost always, is arguably the lowest-cost channel to interact with and engage customers, in a secure and branded experience. But having done all of that work to create an amazing mobile app, why then are companies primarily messaging users over SMS or email?

 “I would argue that the thought leaders, with the smartest apps, are now centralizing the communication within the mobile application, something that they’ve never done before because it’s always been easy to fire off an SMS using an API,” Nalawadi says. “But now it’s possible to bring that experience into the mobile application, while still allowing customers to receive certain messages over other channels — in other words, thoughtfully communicate to customers with the app as the central hub, but really giving them the choice.”

This is an especially good choice for some industries, like fintech and healthcare, where security is critical not just because of regulations and laws, but because the costs of getting it wrong are so high.

“In those cases, using insecure channels such as SMS actually does a disservice to your customers,” he adds. “It’s the difference between sending a fraud alert to a customer in the location they’ve accessed with two-factor authentication or face ID versus the fraud alert over SMS that can be easily spoofed. And if we give brands the tools they need to add conversational capability in the mobile app, then they’re going to realize that some messages don’t belong in SMS.”

Unlocking true omnichannel analytics

In-app analytics are even more detailed than what you get in other channels; in addition to click-through and open rates, you gain an additional level of behavioral insights, like the content they consume as well as preferred channels across a variety of message types, and where in-app messages sit in the context of all the other messages and workflows that a user may have in place with your company. Do they prefer appointment reminders over SMS, or perhaps transactional receipts over email?

“All these things are generally treated as siloed channels, but when you start to think of communication holistically, you unlock true omnichannel insight,” Nalawadi says. “You get a full picture of which workflows work best — and with a 360-degree view of all of these interactions across marketing, transactional and support conversations that doesn’t exist when you’re dividing interactions across functional silos, you get the next level of insight.”

Watch free on demand!


  • Maximizing delivery, open and conversion rates of your messages
  • Minimizing costs of messaging with channel sequencing
  • Empowering teams with user-friendly message software
  • Monitoring and refining campaigns with user-level insights
  • Building in-house vs. using 3rd party (CpaaS vs. SaaS vs. Hybrid)


  • Carrie Sumlin, Executive Director of Digital Product and Experience, Ally Financial
  • Shailesh Nalawadi, Head of Product, Sendbird
  • Chad Oda, Moderator, VentureBeat