When challenging the status quo in the business world, a certain degree of resistance is inevitable.
In fact, according to a Forbes article citing research from Harvard Business School, 70% of all organizational change efforts fail “and one reason for this is executives simply don’t get enough buy-in, from enough people, for their initiatives and ideas.”
So when it comes to embracing the New Customer Journey it is vitally important to get your staff on board with your digital dreams. As a recent article in the Harvard Business Review emphasised, “Digital transformation is an ongoing process of changing the way you do business”; it goes way beyond simply implementing new technology. Staff need to understand what the changes involve, why they are necessary, and what they mean for their role, so that they are motivated to achieve those changes with you.
Here are four top tips to build buy-in from the outset and set your company up for a smooth transition to digital success.
Outline Your Vision At All Levels
Clear leadership and transparency are fundamental here. There’s no question that people want to work for a successful and evolving organisation – of which digital transformation, underpinned by the right business tools, is evidently a key part. So they are more likely to respond positively to a new strategy if the leadership team communicates the company’s ambitions, specific plans and rationale clearly and openly.
Team managers need to be ready to delve into the specifics of the changes with staff, outlining practical implications for each role. It’s useful to focus on the benefits to each person’s everyday job; after all, we all want to find ways of being more productive and having a smoother ride! In the sales team, for example, you may wish to adopt a new lead management solution. Rather than imposing the change on your team – who may initially prefer to stick to their comfortable, ‘tried and tested’ ways of working – try to convey precisely how your chosen solution will help them work smarter, bring greater visibility to their leads and improve conversion rates. Nobody can argue with that.
Involve Staff In Decision-Making
While the overall strategy behind your New Customer Journey may be set at a management level, implementation can be a shared responsibility. In fact, by involving staff as closely as possible in decision-making at a team level – such as the choice of a particular business tool – you improve your chances of ensuring commitment to the completion of the project across the company. This also means that you are taking full advantage of the pool of talent and expertise available to you, simultaneously demonstrating that the company values the skills and experience of its workforce.
When assigning tasks, ensure they play to the each team member’s strengths. It’s important to be clear with each person about how their work is vital to the overall outcome. Employees who are highly engaged with the project will become your advocates and are more likely to generate ideas and share their enthusiasm with colleagues – all of which will reflect in their dealings with customers!
One Step At A Time
Don’t bombard staff with information all in one go – people take time to get used to new ways of working, even if they may be used to the realities of the New Customer Journey and digital self-service in their consumer lives. It is helpful to take a step-by-step approach, demonstrating that this isn’t knee-jerk attempt to jump on board with digital transformation but a well thought-out, organised and staged plan designed to take the company to its next phase of stable growth.
To instill confidence in your strategy, you need to show evidence of the new procedures or technologies in action. You could introduce some ‘quick wins’, such as a mobile CRM app that connects your staff with your customer documents and data in real-time so they can work more productively wherever and whenever they wish. Also, with a staged approach, it will be easier to resolve any unforeseen issues before they become serious bottlenecks that could undermine the success of the wider project.
Listen And Respond To Feedback
We have often talked about the importance of listening to customer feedback in order to improve the Customer Experience, but here it’s time to turn your attention to your internal audience.
Concerns will arise with any major change in working practices, so make sure team managers are available to give staff regular opportunities to air their views. It’s important not to be so steadfastly fixed on a vision that you let it eclipse any practical concerns voiced by those at the coalface of its implementation. Ideally, staff can be encouraged to help problem-solve together with managers – again to drive buy-in and team collaboration, rather than seeing managers as enforcing change.
Without doubt, digitalisation and the New Customer Journey are affecting every industry, and it is incumbent on business owners to implement change to varying degrees if they are to thrive in the digital era. Recently published research by business collaboration specialist Asana revealed that over half of employees in the UK say they would work more productively if they had a better understanding of how their tasks fitted into wider company objectives. This is a stark reminder of the importance of communicating with your staff at a strategic level to accelerate engagement, without which any change management project will flounder.