Considering the Customer Experience While Managing Change

Any conscious organization does not approach change lightly, and nor should it. Much goes into a decision to take on a new market, a new product line, or a new strategic initiative. When deciding to take on change, the resources any organization expends by way of human capital alone can turn out to be a significant investment.

Agnostic to industry, I’ve seen many organizations take months simply planning and preparing for change, and despite the level of support or enthusiasm throughout the process, suffer decreased or complete loss of momentum upon making the decision to implement.

While there exist any number of reasons this occurs, this isn’t a story about how companies can prevent stall out or failure when attempting to implement change. This is one for those organizations who can make it well into the turn but forget one significant detail – a maintained focus on the customer experience.

 W.J. Bradley 
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   Be mindful of maintaining a high quality customer experience when operating through a significant organizational transition.

Be mindful of maintaining a high quality customer experience when operating through a significant organizational transition.

This may read like a catch-22, as we witness many organizations address the need for change as a result of customer demand. Though even in these instances, the attempt to reach a new customer segment can cause an organization to neglect an existing one. Even if the change intends to target an entirely new customer audience in place of an old one, the organization must see this audience through a clear lens and the transition must prioritize the customer.

To be mindful of maintaining a high quality customer experience when operating through a significant organizational transition, here are a few questions to consider.

First determine: Is this change meant to indirectly or directly impact the customer?

If indirectly: 

1)  What business functions make contact with the customer, (at any point in the lifecycle – from pursuit to retention to repurchase)?

2)  Are the people serving each of these functions aware of the change, (benefit or impact to the customer, timeline, change in processes a customer must know of, etc.)?

3)  Do the people serving each of these functions inherently know the organization’s primary promise or purpose to the customer?

4)  Do the people serving each of these functions know the specific value their function is meant to bring to the customer?

If directly, in addition to the above:

5)  What customer segments should know about this change?

6)  What should those customers know?

7)  How far in advance of the change should customers know it’s coming?

8)  How will the organization manage its communication to customers?

a.  Who creates and owns the integrity of the communication?

b.  Are all employees who connect with the customer aware of the message they’re intended to support or deliver?

c.   Are there methods to inform the customer of the coming change via each of the ways the customer engages, (online, mobile, in-person, via partners/third-parties, etc.)?

9)  If the customer will feel pain during this change, how long will that pain last?

a.  How can this pain be mitigated?

b.  How will the customer know when the pain is over?

10)  How can the customer be made to feel confident this change will bring benefit to them?

Before contemplating any of these questions, it is critical that the customer already be defined and keenly understood. It is also critical that the impact to the customer be considered from all angles, and that the decision to implement the change has included consideration of the cost or gains to come as a result of the transition.

Considering the customer is just one – vital - step in the process of implementing change. Yet many organizations overlook thinking about what organizational change will have on the customer experience. It is a symptom of assuming employees:  a) know their role, b) understand the effect their role has on customers, and, important when operationalizing change; c) are clear on how their role needs to evolve, whether in direct contact with customers or not.

At FACTOR, we help organizations focus on the customer, as well as orient the organization to empowering employees to embrace the customer experience.

If your organization is approaching a transition or a transformation, you ought to be considering the impact it will have on customer experience. If you’re in need of help to navigate this process, schedule a visit with us.