Service companies have been wracked by change over the past couple years. The pandemic has upended the workforce, constrained supplies, and pummeled the economy.
The ability to manage sweeping change has never been more crucial and businesses are becoming more proactive on this front. This is where change management best practices come into play.
But what exactly is change management? And why is it so important to service?
Change management is necessary, but hard to do
Change management best practices vary, but it generally refers to the methods companies employ to support employees as the business transforms. It might cover how a company rolls out new technology internally, such as an enterprise collaboration system, or new human resource policies detailing how employees should social distance as they navigate the office.
In service, change management typically includes coaching agents on how to use new solutions and business processes. Service organizations already do this to some extent, leaning into workforce management solutions to provide digital experiences customers prefer, according to Salesforce’s State of Service report.
In the past three years, the typical organization has undertaken five major changes.
Getting change management right is hard work, even for well-heeled service organizations.
Due largely to the pandemic, organizational and business change remains constant as companies pivot. In the past three years, the typical organization has undertaken five major changes, according to Gartner research. Three-quarters of companies expect the number of major change initiatives they will undertake in the next three years will multiply.
This fatigues and frustrates employees, crimping engagement and productivity, Gartner added. Half of change initiatives fail and only 34% can be considered a success.
The change whiplash can tax service organizations, including everyone from leaders to support engineers and field techs.
Yet service leaders must continue to set up service agents for success, even as concerns about health, job security and the economy persist in 2022. It begs the question: How can service leaders help their support engineers and field service techs weather change?
Steer your change management best practices with these steps
Aliza Hutchison, Salesforce director of change management, shared how service teams should execute change management. Here is what Hutchison, who oversees both change and portfolio management efforts, had to say:
1. Streamline your change agenda
Build a formal approach to planning, prioritizing, and communicating change initiatives. This includes a 360-degree view of all changes impacting the service organization. Align initiatives to support priorities and business metrics. This only works when leaders put “governance guardrails” around what they do, when, and why, Hutchison says.
2. Pick a top-notch change leader
This individual will work with project sponsors, managers, and technical leadership, as well as change leaders. For consistency, develop a shared, repeatable approach for change across the company.
Consider a project that involves contact center software for surfacing holistic views of customer profiles. Support engineers must repeatedly test the solution and provide usability feedback before the go-live date. Organizations must similarly test a new mobile application that routes field service technicians to work sites.
Provide a website or portal featuring educational content and self-service tools. This is particularly useful for small organizations; larger organizations require more high-touch coaching and support, Hutchison says.
3. Monitor engagement to gauge understanding
Track service agents’ completion rates and click-throughs for training content. Compare these metrics against adoption targets and provide support to meet service goals. Pulse surveys can lend useful anecdotal evidence, but the numbers matter, too, so prioritize robust data reporting and analytics. Basically, measure what matters.
“Identify successful business outcomes up front,” Hutchison says. “You can’t just walk away from change initiatives once a feature is live or you put in a new process document.” Change journeys include common missteps, but Hutchison said these can be avoided.
Communication breakdowns demoralize teams. Understand how stakeholders like to receive information.
For example, communication breakdowns demoralize teams. Understand how stakeholders like to receive information. Then communicate clearly about how the tasks, expectations, and deadlines will serve the broader business goals.
Some teams will miss the messaging, but don’t panic. Have a plan in place to get them up to speed if and when this happens.
Service leaders should also ruthlessly prioritize the volume and cadence of change. “If you’ve got too many things going on, people are going to turn off and burn out,” Hutchison says. Finally: You got this! Hard work and preparation will serve the organization well, but this is a team sport and everyone is responsible for managing change. “It’s a muscle you need to build and flex,” Hutchison says.
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