Delivering customer experiences that are engaging, relevant and persuasive is a key competitive advantage in today’s business environment. Recognizing that employees are the driving force that can make or break a great customer experience is the first step. An effective change management initiative is the second step necessary to ensure that employees have the knowledge and structure to deliver.
According to a recent Forrester Research study, 86 percent of respondents saw customer experience as a strategic priority. In a five-year study comparing customer experience scores to stock performance, there was a 70 percent differential between leaders and laggards.
There are many factors that determine the success and influence the implementation of a robust customer experience management program (CXM). Technology has become a primary enabler. It allows you to target the right audiences with sophisticated campaign management tools, publish content with complex management systems, and measure and optimize the results using analytics. Combined, these capabilities make up an enterprise marketing platform or EMP.
The true potential of EMPs is often not realized. One aspect that is often overlooked or underestimated when it comes to deploying EMPs is the organizational readiness. From the onset, a CXM/EMP rollout requires various groups such as product, channel, brand, operations and analytics, to work across silos, share a common vision and leverage shared processes and tools.
Getting everyone to work together, share common goals and agree on metrics for success within this new model inevitably results in drastic changes to individuals, groups, teams and entire organizations. Change management can help organizations to control the potential implications (such as resistance and concerns) of such changes.
The Need for Organizational Change Management
Real and lasting change only occurs when employees alter their thinking, beliefs and habits. While it may be easy to recognize the need for change, putting it into practice is an entirely different story.
Humans are, by nature, resistant to change. Resistance takes many forms: unwillingness to learn a new system, disagreement with management decisions and uncertainty over changing job requirements including job security. It is the primary reason enterprise initiatives fail.
Uncertainty can grow when management hires external "experts" to support the organization as can not being "selected" to participate in the project team. Secrecy and lack of communication further contribute to dissent, as employees immediately become fearful when they perceive management withholding information.
Organizational Change Management Fundamentals
Leadership and change authority John P. Kotter defines change management as a set of basic tools or structures intended to keep any change effort under control . The goal is to minimize the distractions and impacts of the change, while maximizing the potential the change intends to bring.
During the initial phase of a rollout, the following areas need to be addressed as a part of the change management process.
Roles & Responsibilities
Internal roles and responsibilities will change. Team structure, employee interaction and workload will all be affected. It is necessary to define where one employee’s responsibilities end and another’s begin. A "RACI" chart is a great tool to drive and provide clarity across the organization.
Functions & Processes
New processes and procedures related to the platform need to be defined before the actual rollout including determining the content lifecycle as well as revising the digital marketing ecosystem in terms of data and marketing.
An assessment must be made of current existing organizations, both from a quality (skills) and quantity (resources) perspective. The current structure must then be mapped against the future state to show its strengths, weaknesses and the gaps.
Preparation & Training
It’s also crucial to deliver proper training. Training programs help familiarize employees with the system and processes as well as increase clarity and acceptance.
The rollout of an EMP is a multi-year initiative. A master plan needs to be developed to reflect the different phases and programs or projects. Decisions need to be made regarding the sequencing of new capabilities/functionalities, the budgeting process and dependencies on external systems -- all within the context of who will sponsor, manage and drive the initiative.
Establishment of a Customer Experience Management Office (CxMO) can be extremely useful in establishing and governing roles, relationships, interdependencies and the functions of multiple groups related to delivering these customer experiences.
This body effectively “owns” the new system and is responsible for all strategy, analytics, content management, publishing, oversight and support. When used properly, it eliminates the uncertainty of responsibility and eases the transition for employees.
The final and most important aspect of organizational change management is communication. Kotter has defined an eight step change management plan, which can result in powerful communication to the organization. Does the organization:
- understand the urgency of why it needs to change
- understand the team/coalition required to drive the change
- have a vision of where it wants to end
- have a plan to communicate to the organization about vision, strategies and new behaviors
- have the ability to remove obstacles which undermine the vision and program
- have a plan to show short term wins
- have the ability to make sure that it doesn’t declare ‘victory’ too soon?
- have the ability to embed the changes in the culture (ongoing management support)
Change isn’t just Helpful; It’s a Necessity for Success
Customers have countless options and unlimited control. They drive their own experiences and brands have been pushed to the backseat. Though brands no longer drive anymore, they can steer customers along their journey, determining business outcomes like conversion, retention and loyalty along the way.
CXM initiatives ensure that customer experiences are engaging, relevant and persuasive. They are driven through a combination of marketing, technology and organizational alignment. Marketing owns the brand and is responsible for creating the right message. Technology delivers the right message, to the right person, at the right time, via the right channel, on the right device and utilizing the right platform.
Effective, well-planned and well-executed change management initiatives can conquer the organizational challenges associated with enterprise CXM initiatives. Educating employees, outlining decisions and defining new roles and responsibilities using change management practices simplifies a roll out, allowing you to reap the benefits of customer experience management with minimal headaches and maximum rewards.