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Modernizing Digital Care - Change Management

Khoros Staff

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Managing Change in your Care Programs

Making a change to your Care program can happen proactively or organically. Proactive changes such as adding a new channel, increasing staff, or a new promotion may be planned but can have significant impacts. If the change is organic, often driven by unplanned events or crises, the impacts require a bit of reverse engineering; even so, you can learn to plan for these types of changes as well.  

In this blog, we will talk about some Change Management best practices that can be applied to both expected and unexpected changes.

For this topic I have asked our Change Management Director, Ramona Maher, to join me. Ramona’s career in change management has focused on leading change management efforts on a large scale as part of cross-functional strategic initiatives. She is well-versed in a variety of tools and techniques to help organizations realize the people-dependent benefits of new ways of doing business.

Today we’ll talk about a few fundamental change management concepts and tools that you as a Care Leader can apply. 

Things to think about when you’re undertaking a change

Change can be a complex and difficult process—yet we often invest more in the technical side of change than in leading impacted people through times of change. In contact centers, the people who are using a new technology or process are truly where the rubber meets the road in terms of cost and efficiency gains, yet it’s easy to underestimate that dependency. Investing in change management activities for a project will positively influence the three “people side” factors that impact the return it delivers: speed of adoption, proficiency, and ultimate utilization. Answers to a few key questions will start you down the path of planning change management activities. 

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What is the reason for the change? What’s the business going to get out of it?

This is important to know because the Big Why will help drive desire. Generally speaking, people want to know they’re part of something bigger than themselves, and this Big Why is that thing. Articulating the Big Why at the beginning of a change also helps keep senior leaders and strategic thinkers aligned on the vision. It will help you define what success looks like so everyone will know if they are on track and when they have achieved it. This activity is the foundation for all subsequent activity and you will not gain the benefits you’re after without it.

Who has to do something different in their jobs in order to make this change successful? 

Any change will create some kind of impact; that impact can be good or bad. Even if a new process or software is more efficient, and an agent is happy about the new UI, it’s still a change and will take some getting used to. It’s important to know who needs to do something differently so they can be properly prepared. You’ll refer to this list of people and groups throughout the entire change process - when building communications, delivering training, and evaluating KPIs.

How much change will be required of them, and by when?

When we get right down to it, each person has their own unique experience with a given change. While you can’t be expected to know how 500 individual agents will experience through their unique lenses, you can prepare yourself by learning how a group of agents is likely to respond. The same is true for their supervisors and managers. Take your best guess and assign a high, medium, or low rating to the amount of change that each group on your list may expect. You’ll have a chance to refine the rating later on.

Now think about WHEN these folks need to know how to do the new thing. Will you be training them on the day the new system goes live or before then? You will want to equip your managers ahead of their teams to provide an extra layer of support on the front lines. Already we’ve got three different and equally important dates to plan for….”go live” which comes after end user training which comes after manager training. You can see a schedule of events starting to come together. Work closely with your Khoros Implementation Advisor and/or Project Manager to sync schedules.

How much of the success of your change is dependent on people doing something different?

This question prompts you to think about how much money and time is appropriate to invest in getting those people ready. Installing a new, more efficient system will inherently bring some benefits and improvements, but if you can get the people ready to USE that system quickly and proficiently, then you realize the benefits much sooner.

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Having thought through these considerations you’ll have a general outline of who is impacted, the size of that impact, and when major changes will occur. Next up: dig deeper into the change management activities for the impacted groups.

Communications

Who delivers a communication is as important as the content of the message itself. Which senior leaders are going to be most effective at delivering messages about the Big Why to each group? Which people managers are leading teams impacted by this change? You should also consider building a network of change agents to reinforce messages. Who are the folks that always seem to be the ones their peers rely on for good info? Bring them into testing and process design discussions early on so that they can get some skin in the game while preparing to handle early questions from their team. They are a valuable resource for feedback from the frontlines before, during, and after go-live. 

Now you can start thinking about how the messages will be delivered...town hall? Email? Text message? 1:1 meetings? What kind of preparation do your senior leaders, people managers, and change agents need to properly convey the importance of the change and the appropriate level of detail to the audience? When should that preparation take place? Add these events and target dates to your schedule, and prepare materials for folks who will be facilitating those discussions. Repeat for each group.

Measuring Change

How will you know if the people who need to change are indeed changing? What behaviors will be observable and measurable? You’re probably already measuring the things outlined in the Forecasting & Staffing blog. Use those as benchmarks. You can measure on-time training completion and on-time communications delivery. Choose KPIs that you can measure early enough in the implementation process that you can provide coaching and make other course corrections to get back on track. 

  • Identify someone to monitor those KPIs
  • Plan time to teach that person how to perform the task if needed
  • Make a plan of actions to take when KPIs go up or down

A few thoughts on Resistance to Change

  • Resistance to change is natural. Even exciting events like getting married or buying a home involve natural moments of worry that are rooted in comfort with the status quo. Never underestimate the power of resistance grounded in familiarity; plan for it to show up and think of ways to move through it rather than being surprised by it.
  • Resistance to change is not all bad, nor is it always a sign that you’re doing something wrong. In fact, you should encourage folks to talk constructively about the things they’re struggling with so they don’t find “unapproved” workarounds that can result in a less than ideal customer experience. Similarly, where agents are finding satisfactory workarounds, you may have an opportunity to improve your overall process and improve the experience for everyone...and you’ll never know it if you discourage talk about resistance.

You can’t assess the levels of resistance based on whether you believe a change is positive or negative, but you can use tools like the Prosci ADKAR Model to understand how individuals experience change as a process and plan activities to minimize disruption.

Put yourself in the shoes of each impacted group and ask the following questions:

  • Do I understand and agree with the business reasons for making this change?
  • Am I committed to doing whatever it takes to make this change happen successfully? 
  • Do I know about the change and the new skills required to support the change?
  • Am I capable of performing these new skills?
  • Am I receiving the necessary support and reinforcement to sustain this change?

Answering “no” or “sort of” to any of those questions can indicate an area you may experience resistance. You can mitigate that resistance by proactively planning change management activities appropriate to each stage in the ADKAR model and tailoring the activities to each team and/or management level where appropriate.

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In closing

You’ve planned your work, now it’s time to work your plans. Remember that two-way dialogue with impacted stakeholders and monitoring metrics are ways that you will be able to keep a pulse on progress and quickly make adjustments and course corrections during implementation and after. In future blogs, we’ll dig into topics like the importance of executive sponsorship, planning communications, and building a change agent network.

Resources & Tools you can use to help you define Measurements/KPIs for your Digital Care program.

Questions? Comments? Thoughts?

If you have any questions on the tips provided, please comment below and I’ll get back to you! 

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