By Ivan Moore, Forcivity
In last month’s Field Technologies Online article, we described three (3) challenges unique to service organizations that can place a technology implementation project at risk and contribute to a negative customer experience. These challenges center around change management and user adoption, in particular, due to these service organization-specific factors:
- Impact on the End Customer: A service technology switch has a direct and meaningful link to the service organization’s customers and as a result, service employees are often reluctant to change in fear of that change negatively impacting their customers.
- Customers’ Priorities’ Come First: Service technology projects can be more challenging to receive dedicated project resources as when customer emergencies and needs surface, these will take priority over a technology switch.
- Field Technicians Add a Unique Dynamic: Field technicians are remote, geographically dispersed, and are used to working with a high degree of autonomy which increases challenges for project inclusion, change management, training, and post-go-live support.
Incorporating change management before beginning any new service IT initiative will assist in employees' adoption and maximize the benefit of the new system and lead to success for the company’s IT investment. A Prosci study has shown when a structured change management program is followed 94% of companies meet or exceed their project objectives.
Change management and user adoption should be included in the pre-project planning with a project budget line item and built into the project plan, with a detailed strategy, assigned leadership, and actionable implementation steps. Service organization leadership must fully commit as they are the lynchpin between executives and the staff and must develop a change management plan with solid components, including creating the vision for change, proper communication, accountability, and resource availability, helping to implement change much quicker within an organization.
Planning And Methodology
As Benjamin Franklin stated, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” and this is especially true for service software deployments, in particular, due to the impact on the end customer. Customer-facing employees are usually asked to work double duty by supporting their customers in their “day job” and acting as subject matter experts, performing testing, and providing end user training during the implementation. Their time commitment can spike to as high as 40%-50% during project peak periods and service organizations should consider temporarily augmenting these employees with additional resources with clearly defined escalation systems to ensure customers’ needs are being met and there is no disruption or negative impact to the customer experience. Other variables such as business seasonality, company events (e.g., trade shows, fiscal period close), and employee considerations (e.g., vacations) must all be factored into the development of a realistic resource and capacity project plan.
While a well-thought-out project plan is foundational and advantageous, an implementation approach that incorporates an agile methodology and multiple communication channels will allow for decisions can be made “on the fly” to overcome the unforeseen factors or changes that will undoubtedly arise during the project.
Field Technician Enablement
Having field technicians embrace a technology change is critical for a successful project; many times they the largest number of employees impacted by service technology change and they are the service organization’s employees that are closest to the customer and can provide great insight on the customer journey. Field technicians can often perceive a technology switch as only important to the “executives” and not a priority to improve their employee experience or make their jobs easier. To overcome these challenges, it is critical to include not just supervisors or managers but front-line field technicians in the project to ensure their voice is heard and support the change management process. The mix of field technicians should represent a cross-section of their organization (e.g., various product lines, geography, age, etc.) bringing them early into the fold with decision making, planning, and execution.
Supporting a remote field technician workforce for training and post-go-live has transitioned from in-person training and PowerPoint slides or documentation and to remote, interactive, or video-based tutorials that are captured and may be maintained with the service organization’s learning management systems (“LMS”). The LMS is leveraged by the field technician for ongoing reference, for new hire onboarding, and tracking of training/certifications. The videos can be augmented with quick reference guides or cheat sheets and defined technician “hot-lines” or power users that quickly answer questions and assist in user adoption. The goal of any training program must ensure that field technicians can confidently and seamlessly perform their work while in front of customers and exceed customer expectations.
Service organizations undertaking technology implementations have a unique set of challenges to overcome and it is imperative that they proactively plan for and address these challenges. Change management, detailed project planning, and embracing field technicians as part of the project are three (3) core strategies to support a successful service technology project.
About The Author
Ivan is Chief Client Officer of Forcivity, a company exclusively focused on assisting companies through service transformations to improve their customer experience and accelerate growth. Ivan and his team deliver successful business outcomes for their clients across the entire customer journey by assessments of their sales and service delivery, optimization of business processes, operating metrics, and deployment of enabling technologies. Jolt Consulting Group and Forcivity recently issued a press release on the merger between the two companies.
Prosci, 2016 Change Management Benchmarking Study