Enterprise service management is already a reality in many organizations and will be even more so in the future. But if that\u2019s true, why does it feel like a very ancient story indeed: building the tower of Babel?\nBreaking down silos in organizations by working together with different service departments has a lot of benefits. Most of all, enterprise service management helps you improve your customer experience while increasing efficiency at the same time. Sounds great, but is it worth the hassle it causes when departments don\u2019t see eye to eye?\nA very common hurdle in improving the collaboration between departments is that they don\u2019t speak the same language. Facilities and IT don\u2019t mean the same thing when they talk about an incident, and HR and finance use different terminology altogether, which leads to misunderstandings. For instance, when IT departments talk about an incident there is no stress related to it, but in a facilities context an \u201cincident\u201d most likely means the building is on fire or something of that severity, not to mention what an incident implies in an HR context.\nThe thing is, though, you don\u2019t need to speak exactly the same language across departments to make enterprise service management work. A very good place to start is a clear understanding of how other departments work and communicate.\nBabel in Brussels\nTake Belgium as an example, the country where I grew up and have spent quite a few years of my career. The country has three official languages: Dutch, French and German. In Brussels, the capital of Belgium, speakers of these different languages live side-by-side and meet in government and businesses alike. The languages aren\u2019t very similar, and many people find it difficult to express themselves in a language that isn\u2019t their own.\nBut listening to and understanding a foreign language is much easier than speaking it. Here\u2019s the Belgian solution to the language barrier: In meetings, each person speaks their own language, so everybody can have their say without the fear of using the wrong words or phrases. Misunderstandings may still occur, but even re-phrasing your point of view in simpler terms is easier in your own language than in somebody else\u2019s. It takes some getting used to but it works surprisingly well.\nSpeech confusion in service management\nThe Belgian model to overcome their language barrier sounds great, but how does it translate to service management?\nIf you work together with multiple service departments, like IT, facilities and HR, you\u2019re bound to run into your own small-scale (or even large-scale) language barriers. Different departments will use different words when they mean the same thing or use the same words when they actually mean different things. It\u2019s tempting to start creating a whole new framework to get everybody on the same page, but is that really the most efficient way to improve communication?\nJust like in Belgian meetings, the most important goal is that all your employees understand each other. At first glance, it seems like that means you need to speak the same language across the board. But what if everybody is simply aware of the differences and keeps talking the way they normally would? It takes a long time to create, implement and learn a new framework for terminology, so wouldn\u2019t it be great if you could skip that step?\nInstead of aligning service departments\u2019 language, let colleagues get to know each other and see each other\u2019s work, so they know what the other side is talking about. Once employees have sufficient knowledge of other departments to understand the differences, they can see their communication in the right context. Plus, since everybody keeps communicating the way they\u2019re used to, your team members won\u2019t have to struggle to get their point across in a meeting, phone call or email.\nA great way to achieve better communication is to have job shadowing days, where people from IT, for instance, tag along with the facilities team for a couple of hours or a full day. Want a more coordinated program? Organize a knowledge sharing day, where the departments each give a presentation about what they are working on. If you\u2019d rather take an informal approach, simply having people from different departments sit together is also a great start.\nCommunicating with customers\nSo, will you never have to change the way your service departments communicate from now on? Well, there is one context in which consistent language is crucial: communication with your customers. If you work together with various departments at the back-end, you may share a service desk or self-service portal where your customers go with their questions and requests. Perhaps you even maintain a knowledge base where customers can quickly find the answers they\u2019re looking for. You want to keep communication with the customer clear and consistent, even if service departments each have their own jargon. How? Here\u2019s a rule of thumb: Avoid jargon as much as you can. Describe your services as plainly as possible and don\u2019t bother customers with the intricacies of how you handle requests at the back-end.\nAnd don\u2019t forget to involve your service desk if you\u2019re going to develop a tone-of-voice for customer communication. Service desk employees talk to customers every day; they\u2019ll know your customers will understand and what confuses them when they submit requests.\nSo, if enterprise service management feels like building the tower of Babel, just remember how Belgians have made that tower work in Brussels. Figure out how the other side works, and let the other side know how you work as well. Then you\u2019re breaking down silos instead of building a tower.