Change is hard. As humans we are creatures of habit. Some of us have a hard time adjusting to a change in laundry detergent (you want me to switch from Tide to Gain?!), so it is only natural that we and our agents sometimes have difficulty accepting and adapting to changes in our contact centers. Studies have concluded that 70% of change initiatives fail for a wide variety of reasons. This usually is not for lack of desire or trying, but rather insufficient thought, time and resources dedicated to organizational factors – like people and processes – that impact the change’s success.
Success Depends On More Than Just Technology
You’re implementing a new technology solution – great! Contact center solutions, like those offered by inContact, directly contribute to increased efficiency, improved customer satisfaction, and much more.
However, there are a lot of organizational factors beyond the tool itself that impact the success of the implementation and the solution. Some of these factors include your organizational change readiness, your organizational structure and resources, the quality of the agents and contact center management team, how the tool is used, and your adoption strategy.
Thus, whether the change is as large as moving your contact center to the cloud, or something as small as changing how your agents submit their vacation requests, there are some key factors you should consider.
Complete An Impact Analysis To Assess Whether This Is The “Right” Time
I know what you’re thinking – is there EVER a right time for a major change? While it feels like there are endless initiatives going on within your organization, there are certain times that are better than others to make a big change. Obvious things to take into account are your fiscal year and budgetary process, your business seasonality, and major agent vacation times.
Less obvious things might only bubble to the surface if you conduct an impact or change-saturation analysis. This includes creating a matrix with all the changes that have recently been implemented, are in flight, or are approved to begin in the contact center and adjacent functions, and the organizational parties that are impacted – including your customers!
Conducting this exercise can be eye-opening and may prompt you to stagger or phase your change. You might realize that you have already subjected your agents to 4 major change initiatives this year, and one more change might just put them over the edge. OR that marketing is conducting a change that would be run concurrently to your change, and drain many of the same resources!
Set Realistic Expectations For Leadership
Change and business results don’t happen overnight. There are a number of lagging success indicators – like reductions in cost and increase customer satisfaction – that will take time for your organization to realize. All changes involve a stabilization and adoption period that can last anywhere from weeks to months depending on organizational readiness -- meaning sometimes things can get worse before they get better.
Depending on the type of change, some contact centers see a temporary drop in performance while agents adjust to new tools, processes and ways of working. This is natural! This period will undoubtedly be followed by the significant improvements and benefits your leadership team desires. It is just critical that you level expectations that reaping those benefits takes time.
Engage Key Players Early To Become Change Champions
Every person experiences the change acceptance continuum differently. You will have early adopters and those more resistant to your change. And we shouldn’t blame them!
A 2016 study indicated that the majority of contact center agents have 5 or more years of experience and plan to stay for the long-haul. That means that in their time with the organization they may have already lived through innumerable changes and may experience fatigue (or even PTSD from changes that flopped!). To promote early acceptance, educate and engage key players early and often. Find your noisiest – and nosiest – agents and get them on your side to champion the change. If they become an advocate, the rest of the agents will follow suit.
Think About Training Up Front, Not As An Afterthought
All too often, training is something that is put off and then rushed to complete before Go-Live, which contributes to change failure. While it is important to conduct the actual training close to Go-Live so agents will retain and apply what they learn, it is important to begin with the end in mind and develop the training plan up front. That way throughout design and testing, you can keep your agents top of mind and pull out the necessary content. There are great tips for training your agents out there, and lots of mechanisms to execute – whether it be soliciting the help of certified training resources, or creating all the content yourself. At the end of the day, just MAKE SURE YOUR AGENTS ARE TRAINED.... AND TRAINED WELL!
Don’t Be A Statistic!
Hopefully with these tips – combined with your awesome new technology platform and your amazing project team – will set you up for success for your next change or implementation. Cheers to being the 30% of changes that succeeds!