During this month, I’ve adopted a theme to my blogs focusing on various ideas, concepts and posts that I have shared in the past to help those of you considering customer experience transformation to take that leap of faith. In the second of five posts, I’ll focus on managing change in your customer experience.
Modern businesses change often and rapidly. What you focused on 12 months ago will often evolve into a new perspective a year later. It’s really important for customer experience practitioners to acknowledge and embrace change and ensure that the customer journey for which they are responsible evolves in line with product and business requirements. Failing to do so creates a disjointed and clunky experience, reducing customer engagement and ultimately reducing recommendation and satisfaction. One of the best ways to keep it simple and manageable is to track your customer touchpoint. Many respected authors and publishers give great steer on how you should carry out this work initially.
Customer experience touchpoint invariably represent your “moments of truth” within your customer journey – that is to say the moments of truth and the moments of pain when you have the most ability to delight or frustrate your customers. As change happens, being in the loop to re-map your customer experience touchpoint, consider impact and make changes to processes and systems reduces negative impact. If you’re in an organisation that is silo’d you may not have the good fortune to make the changes in advance. You need to quickly respond and make the changes to avoid a poor customer experience. Here’s five tips on the best approach to take.
- Who to engage: Whilst decisions start, for the most part, from the top of the business, most change is effected by your own peers. Product, marketing, sales, operations, IT all have objectives and goals to deliver, just like you. If you can quickly identify the key contacts (rather than pulling too many people into the discussion), you can quickly get familiar with details of the change and work out the impact on the customer experience. I find the RACI model is a great quick reference guide to spot the responsible people to reach out to.
- Where to start: It’s easy to dive into the detail of any change and fret about the minutiae. Step back, consider the reasons (financial, market-driven, technology) for the change and look at your high level customer touch points. Understanding how many stages are impacted helps prioritise your actions. Make sure that the simplest customer journey is fixed first, then dive into the detail. Where appropriate, work with peers to assign the customer experience change to the rightful owners. They know their function better than you do, so focus on facilitating the change, not owning it.
- Managing disagreement: Every change is open to interpretation, but every change is introduced for a reason. As a customer experience practitioner, you need to help people understand the purpose of the change, so that they can consider the impact. Avoiding an emotional reaction and adopting a pragmatic approach to the change will help considerably. Brainstorm and collaborate on a commonly agreed approach. On rare occasions when conflict cannot be avoided, involve the owner of the change to reach agreement. The quicker the customer experience is sorted, the lower the impact on your business, so it’s in everyone’s interest to get it right.
- Communicating the change: Change fails due to lack of communication. That means focusing on the target audience to help them understand the impact on their function, not just a blanket email blast. Communication is time consuming and requires a fair amount of patience, but once again, a well planned change will succeed with effective communication. Start with peers and stakeholders, and ensure it cascades to their teams. Finally, make sure your customers understand what’s happening AFTER you’ve got the whole team onboard.
- Being more prepared in future: So you managed to get the change sorted. You worked with a load of people, defined a plan, delivered the actions and restored order to your customer experience. As you update your customer experience touchpoint, don’t forget to review successes and failures. Build on the exchanges you had with peers and colleagues. If you helped them resolve issues and smooth ruffled feathers between teams, they are much more likely to engage you earlier in the process next time. You’ve probably got a few templates for planning and communicating, too. So, you’re now ready to handle the next wave of business change!