4 Tips for transformation on a budget

How can you drive transformation and innovation when budgets are tight and resources constrained?  I speak with many businesses who face this challenge, and whether the constraints are due to focus on other areas of the business, shareholder intervention or a drive to reduce cost, there are plenty of ways to achieve change without spending a large amount.  Here’s 4 tips on how you can improve your customer experience without breaking the bank.

  1. Identify what has the most impact

One of the most common mistakes to make when approaching transformation is to have a fixed view of what you want to change and how.  This is often driven by a sense of urgency to correct an erroneous situation (e.g. poor call centre response times) or a change causing significant business impact (e.g. loss of a critical account.)  The need to make the change overtakes logical behaviour – consider the issue you’re trying to correct as part of the broader experience, as there will invariably be other tweaks that deliver a better end result.

For example, I recently worked with a business where follow up with customer issues was notoriously slow.  Rather than recruiting more staff to respond to the issues, looking more broadly, the lack of staff training was identified as the cause.  A three-tiered  training certification programme was introduced to upskill and empower the staff over a number of months. Within 1 month, the previous SLAs on customer response times were exceeded!

  1. Automation or simplification?

When driving transformation, we often seek out new tools and systems to support the change.  This is often the case in a fledgling customer success team, where the sheer volume of tasks can become overwhelming.  The time and cost of introducing a new tool, integrating with existing CRMs, etc is invariably prohibitive.  My advice is to review the end to end tasks, strip out the non-critical tasks, and prioritise against the activities to focus on what has the most business impact (customer retention & growth.)  I worked with one company to come up with a list of priorities:

  • Now: do it every day, as a priority
  • Next: Keep on top of these tasks, they will get critical if not done
  • Later: check in weekly, work through as many as possible
  • Never: Nice to have tasks that as parked until capacity to deliver is in place
  1. Engage the whole team in making the decision

When a manager needs to make a change, it’s very easy to put your head down and disengage from the team whilst you work through the issue, decide a solution and draw up a plan.  Over and over, I find that being open and honest with the team, telling them the challenge, stepping back to let them deliver a solution works amazingly well.  Your role in managing transformation is less to decide on the solution, but to influence the overall outcome as part of the greater customer experience you’re responsible for.  Empowerment & engagement demonstrate your emotional intelligence, and build trust with the team.  It also frees you up to manage communications upwards during the period of change.

  1. Use your network to leverage learnings

No man is an island, are you seeking support from peers within your business to agree an outcome that will meet the business need?  How can sales, marketing, engineering help you achieve your result?  Is it simply a case of getting buy-in and support, or can they loan you resources or tools that help achieve the goal?  There’s plenty of help within your company if you simply ask.

But what about beyond your business?  If you’re reading this post, you’re probably a LinkedIn user.  How often do you check through contacts, re-ignite connections and reach out to share challenges & learnings?  It’s a very powerful network, which I use almost daily, so don’t be afraid to ask the 100s or 1000s of people your connected to for their experience!  Likewise, this goes for other social media or real world networks and events you attend.  A little time to nurture your connections increases your knowledge pool exponentially!

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