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How to Help Customers Navigate Changes in Processes

How to Help Customers Navigate Changes in Processes

Process change is a constant. So make sure you’re constantly leading your customers towards a better experience through digital transformation.

When customers ask this question, there are usually only two reasons behind it:

“Since when?” could be the customer asking (with surprise and delight) how long you’ve been stocking a product they’ve been searching to find elsewhere. It could also mean they’re thrilled to discover you’ve introduced a promotion that will save them money, or that you’re now offering free shipping on some items.

However “Since when?” could also mean they’re frustrated to find out they need to input more information to create an account profile on your e-commerce site. They might be unpleasantly surprised to discover that they should have downloaded your mobile app to have a faster, more streamlined experience. If you operate physical stores but some items are now only available online, there may be a sizeable segment of customers who ask “Since when” with indignation.

Regardless of whether they’re happily taken aback or irritated, the “since when” question reflects a change management problem – or more specifically, a problem in how digital transformation affects some of your most common customer-facing processes.

This may be understandable when you consider the myriad ways in which everyday operations are enhanced by digital technologies. From artificial intelligence (AI) tools that make it easier to market and sell products online to an ever-growing number of channels to offer customer service, the scope for potential digital transformation within most companies is vast. But so is the risk of overlooking the fact that customers may be used to traditional ways of engaging with your company, even if some of them were manual and time-consuming.

Customers often develop new, more effective habits using digital tools in less time than to you think. Managing the transition, however, is key to ensuring the long-term evolution of your customer experience isn’t introducing some unnecessary friction in the short term. According to market research firm IDC, for example, 35 per cent of companies with an ad-hoc approach to digital transformation report that their top challenge is getting customers to adapt to new processes.

Fortunately, there’s a better way to set your company and your customers up for success in adapting to new processes from the outset:

Pretend You’re The GPS For A New Digital-First Customer Journey

If you operated physical locations and set up a new one with a completely new layout, you probably wouldn’t force customers to find their way around unassisted. You’d set up signage and even station a few employees at strategic locations to ensure they’re ready to answer questions and provide any necessary guidance.

The same thing applies to processes that may have changed or moved online as you pursue digital transformation. Think about all the potential journeys they might take, such as:

· Creating an online profile or account

· Looking for a product or service

· Making a purchase

· Reaching out for service or support

· Returning a product and asking for a refund

· Making changes to their address or payment information

Think of these as trips your customers are taking, where you’re acting as their GPS. What kind of directions can you offer that only get them from A to B, but teach them how to find their way without you next time?

Treat Process Changes With The Same Marketing Approach You’d Apply To A Product Launch

Whether your company develops its own new product or adds one to its portfolio from a third party, there is likely a lot of work involved to make sure the news is well communicated to your customers. They not only need to know that the product exists, but why they should buy it, any customizations available and of course the price.

These details usually get fleshed out by marketing departments who use ads, press releases and even social media to get the word out. You’re doing your customers a huge favour by being just as proactive with process changes.

This can really just be about building on marketing best practices you already have in place. For instance, you might:

· Provide the rationale for a major process change in a blog post

· Produce a video that shows a fictitious customer successfully executing a changed process

· Promoting updates about process changes via social media, your e-mail newsletter or even on a branded podcast

Approaching this as a marketing campaign is also smart because that means you’ll be sure to track how customers engage with this content and actually learn what they need to know.

Make The Incentives And Rewards Behind The Changes As Visible As Possible

It may customers a moment to get used to the new steps involved in paying for their items in line, but is it faster than before? Is it an order of magnitude better than asking them to stand in line at a physical location? Don’t assume this will be obvious. Tell them.

Though content posted around menu buttons as they fill their shopping cart for example, briefly describe how the process change takes shopping from “quick” to “instant.” When they check out, add details in their receipt about how fast it really was, and compare it with benchmark data based on the previous process.

Do the same thing when you’re deploying a chatbot to deal with some of the most common troubleshooting questions rather than forcing your most skilled agents to do the same thing by phone. If you’re able to offer a tangible reward for trying a new process out, make sure that’s part of your customer marketing campaign.

Bonus Tip: Revisit Your Process Change Uptake

As digital transformation unfolds, it’s easy to focus on the most recent process changes and assume (or hope) that previous ones have taken hold. That’s a mistake.

Instead, take a periodic step back to assess your progress in helping your customers transition the way they engage. Data collected by your customer service team could provide a reality check here: if you’re continuing to get a lot of outreach from customers who are confused or upset by changes you’ve made to existing process, there’s clearly more communication that needs to be done.

Process change – like all change – is a constant. So make sure you’re constantly leading your customers towards the better experience you’re aiming to provide them through digital transformation.

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