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Getting Started: What is Change Management?

Change management is defined as the methods and manners in which a company describes and implements change across both its internal and external processes.

While it can feel like a relatively simple concept, it can be much harder to execute successfully—especially when thinking about the different stakeholders who might be affected. Employees may need one set of communications, while customers need another.

As CX transformations continue to gain popularity in a customer-first world, CX change management is an increasingly important aspect of the transformation roadmap. Without getting buy-in from your internal stakeholders and implementing a clear communication strategy, change management plans can fall short of expectations. In order to meet change management goals, creating a concise plan based on best practices is key.

Setting Your Organization Up for Change Management Success

We’ve engaged in hundreds of different CX engagements over the years, and thanks to these transformations, we’ve had countless opportunities to perfect how CX and change management combine for exceptional experiences.

Let’s take a look at a few ways organizations can maximize their CX transformations with these six change management tips.

1. Understand—and empathize with— your customer.

Lay the groundwork to get to know your customer so they can be seen, known, and heard. Managing expectations and the impact of those expectations on people are key. New technology and process changes can be startling or frustrating if you don’t empathize with what your customers are experiencing. Take a look at how changes in the way your company does business might affect them and craft your communication plans around proactively listening, explaining, and empathizing.

For example, if a massively different customer interaction strategy is implemented, what does it mean for your customers? How should communication about the new technology go out, and what can you do to assuage fears around interacting with your brand in a new way?

2. Align Across Departments and Get C-Suite Buy In.

The journey to CX change management should be holistic. Every touch point that a customer has with your brand must reinforce the others. If the people who run your company, manage your website, control your contact centers, and take charge of your field organization are not completely in sync, it means they’re scattered in different directions. The vision won’t come to fruition if everyone isn’t on the same page. At the highest level, leadership should break down silos and align all of your organizational stakeholders behind common objectives.

CX transformations happen across departments, with leadership being no exception. Gain buy in across the C-suite and set up regular meetings with executives to create a consistent understanding of where you are, where you’re going, and how you’ll talk to everyone as you get there. This can inform your guiding coalition of decision makers moving forward.

3. Develop the change vision.

Before you do anything else, you need to establish the change vision. Translate your brand and its purpose into your customer experience with a clear road map. The road map tells your organization how you’ll get to where you’re going. You developed the vision, and now it’s time to put it into action. Road maps should incorporate every step along the way—including enhancements to change management, investment, and technology processes, just to name a few.

After creating the roadmap, don’t neglect the communications plan around it. A roadmap is only beneficial if it’s understood, answering the typical “who, what, where, when, why, and how” questions to dive into the heart of the changes for customers and employees alike. Remember, customers and employees will need different things from you as the transformation unfolds.

4. Follow the golden rule—treat your employees as you would like to be treated.

We all know the golden rule: Treat others how you would like to be treated. In a CX change management framework, this means treating your employees just as well as you want them to treat your customers. Your employees build in the processes, routines, metrics, and habits for an excellent customer experience. Make it easy for your employees to put the customer by first empowering them to use the right technology and processes that will allow for seamless experiences.

Give them options to get familiar with new technology updates. Can you set up a test environment for them to become more familiar with the new tools before going live? Will you be implementing a pilot program to give other teams a chance to learn from these initial experiences? If your employees know how to talk about the company’s updates because they too understand them, you set everyone up for success and can exceed expectations.

If you want change to happen, you need to be constantly talking to and listening to your employees. What are they saying? What are they concerned about? Make sure you’re continually addressing these concerns and taking them into account as you continue to bring change forth in your organization.
Kate Kompelien

5. Then, check in with customers and employees—at every stage in the transformation process.

Conduct surveys and collect data throughout the transformation process to get the most up-to-date insights. For example, check out your customer’s survey feedback and social media posts to see what they’re saying—including praise and opportunities for improvement. Mine contact center data, transcripts, and online reviews. Ask your customer service and front-end teams about what they hear from customers, since they help them day in and day out.

It’s vital for the digital transformation leader in your organization to have a comprehensive view of the customer. Understanding how your customers are feeling about a new change throughout the rollout process can help you address concerns in near real-time and adapt or slow adoption as circumstances dictate. Questions to guide your discovery could be:

  • Who are my customers?
  • Who are my employees?
  • What is important to them, and what’s working well / poorly today?
  • How can I make their experience seamless while also making their lives easier and better?
  • What can I do to ease fears around change?
  • How can I make their new experience frictionless?

6. Pay attention to your competition.

Often times, it can be helpful to pay attention to your competitors and how they’re talking about updates with their customers. What can you improve upon that would make a world of difference for your customers? Are there gray areas that can be more succinct? Where are the gaps in communication and how can you connect them in your own conversations with customers? If you zero in on these aspects, you may find wonderful insights you can use for your own transformation plan.

At Avtex, our team includes licensed change management professionals who are equipped with the most up-to-date tools and processes to help you navigate through exciting changes in your business. Together we can make sure your customer experiences are exceptional and your implementation process is, too.