Embracing change

Editor’s note: Paul Kavanagh is the managing director of Beehive Research.

In a world of rapidly evolving market dynamics, technological advancements and shifting customer preferences, the worst thing a business can do is stand still. Consumers are well informed and spoiled for choice. For businesses aiming to achieve and maintain commercial success, remaining adaptable and agile is not just a matter of staying ahead – it's about survival. Failing to keep pace with changing demands and preferences could result in customers “quiet quitting” in favor of the competition.

The need for change

Understanding and identifying which products, services or processes are meeting and exceeding customer expectations is imperative. Any gap between what is promised and what is delivered could reduce sales and recommendations or risk damaging an organization’s reputation. The captivating ad campaign, digital solution or customer service touchpoint that was a game changer last year could be outdated or irrelevant this year.

It’s for this reason that customer experience is never a case of “one and done.” To respond to the constant state of flux in the markets, CX programs need to be recalibrated on a regular basis. CX professionals need to repeat, compare and check what’s working and be clear about what still needs to change based on fresh insights and new data.

However, acknowledging the need for change and implementing it are two distinct phases. It’s important to remember that measuring and reporting on customer experience is only part of the picture. It won’t automatically lead to new approaches and processes being adopted without question. The challenge is encouraging employees to embrace change, not to resist it.

Why is change so hard?

Employees, often considered the backbone of any successful change management strategy, can also become the very barriers to its implementation. Not all resistance stems from an innate aversion to change. Sometimes it’s just a fear of the unknown or the perception that change will mean more work, less control and more stress. If it’s imposed from above, poorly communicated and with little training or resources set aside, it’s no surprise that friction and frustration can occur. 

The key to reducing the fear of change and business transformation on any level is to ensure that insights are disseminated effectively within the organization to foster a culture of adaptability and continuous improvement. Reducing resistance to change is all about transparency – giving employees access to the insights and reasoning behind suggested changes.

Cascading information to different audiences

For those driving CX improvement, this means cascading the insight gathered by the CX program to employees when they need it, and how they need it, so they have the information they need to act. 

Different employees process information differently so there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach to sharing CX program results. While some may need the immediacy of real-time data or headline numbers, others might prefer granular detail or simply need explicit action points. For example:

  • Real-time information is best suited for teams that need instant updates like customer support or crisis management teams. Real-time data allows them to pivot quickly, making instantaneous decisions that can directly influence customer satisfaction.
  • Headline numbers are ideal for those who seek a broader picture, often decision makers who need a snapshot before delving into the details or teams that coordinate overarching strategies based on wider trends.
  • Granular details are crucial for departments like research and development or analytics teams, who rely on intricate details to understand patterns, make forecasts or design solutions.
  • Action points are most apt for ground-level teams, who need clear directives without being bogged down by data. 

The most appropriate method, or methods, for sharing program results will depend on a range of influences and factors. You’ll need to consider the following:

  • Who will control dissemination of the results (e.g., agency, CX leads, self-serve)? Who needs to have access to the results? What detail do they need? Do they need to interact with or analyze the results? Do they have appropriate skills to interpret the data?
  • How frequently are results needed? What format of results will enable actions to be taken? What actions will be taken? How will they be prioritized for maximum ROI? Who will be accountable for the actions? How are actions followed up?

Boosting actionable impact

Clearly an organization's approach to sharing insights can either make employees champions of change or reinforce resistance. However, enhancing the actionable impact of a CX program isn’t only about data dissemination – it’s also about enabling teams to interpret and fully understand how they can act on this data. Regular training sessions, workshops and planning sessions and interactive webinars will ensure that insights are not only shared, but that employees are able to actively participate in incremental change. The best way to do this is to invite employees to embark on the continuous improvement process that CX demands from the outset.

  • Ensure employees understand and are bought in to the CX program from day one with a dedicated onboarding process. 
  • Explain the aims, goals and key objectives of the program in clear, unambiguous terms. 
  • Ensure that employees appreciate how their actions relate to impact and outcomes that will make a difference to customers and the business.
  • Provide regular training for all employees, especially those on the frontline, so they are equipped with the knowledge and expertise to do a good job. 
  • Empower employees, giving them the knowledge and authority to act and make decisions that will facilitate first time resolution of any customer issues. The “first receiver” approach to problem resolution vs. the “tiered” or department-by-department led approach has been proven to be the most effective way to manage customer enquiries, time after time.
  • Encourage employees to be accountable and responsible for acting where it’s needed. 
  • Monitor performance but focus on providing positive feedback that contributes to the ongoing learning process.

Data can be a driving force for change on any scale, and for any reason, but it’s especially true for businesses with a laser focus on customer experience and how it contributes to wider business initiatives. Regardless of what type of change you are trying to effect, or the challenges it may involve, the transformative power of a CX program isn’t just in its data-collecting capabilities but with its ability to drive engagement with employees. With a thoughtful approach to sharing insights, it can create a ripple effect, where small- or large-scale change isn’t just accepted, it’s embraced as a positive, strategic approach to driving momentum and business improvement.