More than 80% of CX professionals said they were starting or in the middle of a digital transformation project in 2019. And, the focal point for these transformative moves is improving customer experience.
As disruptors and new competitors emerge in markets, companies continue to seek out ways to level up their service. Trends show that 2020 looks no different. Companies with on-prem systems are flocking to the cloud. And, those who were part of the cloud movement nearly a decade ago are looking to mature their current systems in the name of a better CX.
But enterprise-wide change is hard. And without the right strategies in place, results will falter. Which is why every customer ops leader like you comes to the table better prepared with a change management strategy in hand.
Our friends at TechTarget define change management as the systematic approach to dealing with the transition of an organization’s goals, processes, or technologies.
The good news is, we’ve culled through research to help you craft your plan for change management in your organization.
Years ago, Harvard Professor Dr. John Kotter created an award-winning 8-step process for leading change.
We used this process, paired with extensive research on digital transformation, to come up with four strategies essential to aligning your people and processes while you move to the cloud or mature your tech.
Let’s strategize how to improve your contact center through the lens of change management, so you’re set to move to the cloud and mature your systems without a hitch.
1. Collaborate early and often.
Too often, lack of collaboration topples transformation efforts and pushes execs out the door. Some 80% of transformations fail because of poor project coordination and communication (read: collaboration). And, another one in five execs reported leaving a company because of poor collaboration.
Operational changes to your contact center impact your company and the service you deliver holistically. In fact, a McKinsey & Company survey on digital transformation found eight in 10 respondents said their change efforts involved their entire company or at least spanned multiple departments.
The wide-reaching impact of operational changes when you move your tech to the cloud or mature your systems means you need to input from multiple stakeholders, across many teams.
“Digital transformation cuts across every function and every budget, and all functional teams need to be on board. Transformation cannot be driven out of IT only; rather it must be fully aligned with the organization’s overall path, goals, mission, heritage, and planned future.”
What you can do to influence collaboration for better change management:
First up, work with company leadership to ID an executive sponsor for your change efforts. Get top-level buy-in to back your projects and help rally your team around the cause.
Next, get stakeholders from every department in a room to define your change goals, risks, and intended outcomes. Document how making operational changes and updating your technology advances your company goals. Finally, map out who will own each piece of the project and who will contribute.
For example: If you’re moving your on-prem contact center to a cloud solution, you’ll have heavy involvement from contact center managers, your VP of Ops, and IT. Your IT Director might own migrating all your data to the cloud. But, you’ll need to act in a supporting role, pointing out what’s critical to keep and what you’re okay with leaving behind. (Ahem…hello 2-year old call recordings from agents no longer in their seats).
2. Run pilots and test programs.
Moving from on-premises infrastructure into the cloud is intimidating. It takes intentional alignment and incremental process shifts that happen over time. And, maturing your technology from a system that works, but doesn’t necessarily elevate your service, can be just as daunting. After all, you don’t want to break something that works. But you also can’t keep operating at the status quo and stay viable in a hyper-competitive, disruptive world.
This is where running a pilot program of your new technology comes in. Running a pilot program lets you test your proof of concept with a lower impact on your company. You don’t make long-term commitments upfront, so if the new technology doesn’t work as planned, you aren’t tied up in multi-year contracts with tons of money on the line.
What a good pilot program needs to define:
- Proof of concept for future budget and sustainability. Some 94% of execs said getting board approval for digital investments was a challenge. Use your pilot program to prove the concept, address risks head-on, and prove the benefits of new technology. It will earn extra budget for your projects and prove the importance to upper execs and your board.
- The ability to scale. Companies are spending billions on digital reinventions yet reporting poor ROI. Why? According to HBR, the main reason lives in unsuccessful efforts to scale digital innovations beyond early pilot work.
The study highlighted in HBR, by folks from Accenture, found that two main challenges emerge when trying to upgrade digital processes and technology at companies. The first? Managers not being on the same page about goals of the project (and not talking about their difference in opinions). The remedy? Jump back to section one of this post. Collaborating early and often cures the lack-of-alignment blues.
The second challenge lived in how to move projects beyond the pilot program. Work cross-functionally to dedicate time and resources to the project, define actionable goals, and set a timeline for scaling up your new tech to your entire contact center. While you want to take your project to full scale, be realistic in what you’re capable of and how long it will take you to ramp everything up4 Chan. Rushing the process won’t bring the returns you’re looking for.
3. Build a feedback loop.
Nearly two-thirds of C-Suite execs have set KPIs for transformation efforts without understanding the gaps in their business, first. You’re the force that feeds frontline information to your COO for meetings at the exec roundtable.
You have first-hand knowledge of where gaps exist in your processes and technology. And, you can be the starting point for creating a feedback loop to align your top-level leaders with what’s happening on the frontlines.
How to jumpstart a cycle of feedback:
Share insider knowledge about customer conversations, and the data behind them, to cross-functional managers and your bosses. Create custom dashboards and reports that paint a picture of your contact center performance and customer needs. Work with your executive sponsor and other department leaders to meet regularly and share the info you find.
And, schedule team meetings with your team agents to get their feedback, too. Also, ask questions in your 1:1s about your agents’ experience at work. See what’s frustrating customers and your agents. Then, think through how modern cloud technology could make their jobs easier (and your customers’ experience better). See what problems popped up in the pilot program and where your agents celebrated successes.
Share your solutions with your executive sponsor and your fellow leaders for a path to better contact center performance. Then, as your cycle of feedback spins, build a plan to scale your successes beyond the pilot and ditch the failures.
4. Evaluate and Iterate
Staying aligned and on-track as you deploy new software means you need to take frequent pulse checks and keep improving. As you begin to scale your pilot program and get through implementation, keep your feedback loop constant. Check in with your team, your customers, and your ops leaders to see what’s working and what’s not.
Work with IT and your vendors to address any hiccups and keep iterating on specific projects. During transformation, it’s crucial to address your top priorities, first, then add in more tools and capabilities as you go.
How to measure the impact on your contact center performance:
Measure the adoption of your new cloud technology among your team. See if your agents are thrilled with the changes or if they’re resisting them. See if your contact center culture improves or if stress and tension fill the air. And, measure the impact on your customer outcomes. Look to your KPIs for any drops or spikes.
Are you already beginning to see improvement in your metrics, or are you taking a quick nosedive during a transitional period? Evaluate what’s working (and what’s not) so you can continue to iterate and improve.
Contact center leaders and IT have to work hand-in-hand to reach digital maturity. Your CIO is the perfect executive sponsor for your next big project.