Successful Change Management – Communicating Process Change

Successful Change Management – Communicating Process Change

Change management can be a difficult process for even the most seasoned leader. Executives rise to positions of authority by solving problems, and their approach to change management may reflect that impulse: identify a solution to a given problem, assemble the staff, and share plans for the new process, emphasizing bottom-line benefits. While this is a logical plan of attack, it may not account for the many human concerns that come into play when significant change is at hand.

There is a better way to approach change management, and it doesn’t involve ordering copies of “Who Moved My Cheese?” for all employees. Effective communication will help you promote change more effectively and keep pain to a minimum. Key points to consider when contemplating change management include:

Communicate early and often: Team members focused on their day-to-day responsibilities may not be aware of a problem that is apparent to management, or may simply accept it as part of the status quo. In such cases, solutions often appear to be change for the sake of change. By socializing the existence of the problem and soliciting ideas and feedback from those who will be affected, management will ensure that the team understands the need for action and is invested in decision-making. It may be especially valuable to bring in a skilled change management consultant who can address issues from an unbiased perspective and ask critical questions that employees may prefer to sidestep.

Communicate with your ears: Once the decision has been made and communicated, company leaders are much more likely to turn change opponents into proponents if they actively listen and respond to the concerns of those most impacted. Two-way discussion and communication are essential ingredients of successful change management.

Communicate the big picture: When a change must be made, it may not be feasible or appropriate to involve everyone in the necessary decisions. In such situations, effective change management depends on clearly explaining why the decision is being made and what impact it will have. Team members are concerned with customer experience, product quality, and employee satisfaction as well as the bottom line. That means leadership must address the impacts on all areas of the company. Presenting the effects of the change honestly and as positively as possible will help team members understand how the change impacts the company as a whole. In large organizations, members of one work group frequently do not understand how their activities relate to others. Seeing the big picture will help them become active change management participants.

Communicate the little picture:
Employees are more likely to embrace and contribute to successful change management if they receive honest information about the direct impact the changes will have on their activities, work relationships and pocketbooks.

In the digital age, our paradigms are shifted, our cheese moved, and our concept of reality altered on a daily
basis by relentless technological, societal, and business change. This can be overwhelming, and even the most
dedicated employee may wonder whether he or she really needs to adapt to every disruption that comes along. Truly
successful change management requires that companies help employees and customers understand change, accept
it and thrive in today’s dynamic business environment.

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Creating Competitive Advantage – Business Process Automation: More Bang for the Buck

Creating Competitive Advantage – Business Process Automation: More Bang for the Buck

In the never-ending pursuit of productivity, process automation is often an appealing solution for a business department or company division seeking greater efficiency and lower expenses. The ideal approach to the problem is often software that addresses the user’s unique issues, ensuring better fit, smoother deployment and easier adoption. But paradoxically, organizations in greatest need of such a solution may not have the budget for the process automation tools that will make the biggest impact, or have a culture that embraces change.

A smart process automation consultant can help you spread the cost, share the benefits, and become a company hero by extending the use of your department’s software to other user groups. After all, the same process automation tools can most likely support a variety of related processes.

Tools used to route and dispatch the service workforce can also be used for a sales force, often with just a minor tweak. For example, consider the large telecommunications company whose non-pay disconnect group needed help. This team cut off service at the utility pole for customers whose accounts were in arrears. They operated apart from normal field operations functions as well as the field audit group, which detected illegal connections and theft of service. But on examination, a savvy process automation consultant determined that the procedures followed by these three departments had a great deal in common, and that they both shared key elements with activities of the “feet on the street” sales team.

The new process automation tool designed for the field service department worked very well for the disconnect team and the field audit folks. Joining with the sales team, all three groups became a powerful part of the company’s sales force and drove out the cost of redundant systems. Instead of simply cutting off service at the utility pole for non-paying customers, the team began calling on these customers to offer them the opportunity to settle accounts and keep their service. The tap audit team likewise turned service thieves into honest, paying customers. Service technicians earned sales commissions, the CFO was ecstatic, and the department head who initiated the process automation received kudos from all quarters.

Although distinct from process automation, business intelligence software offers another attractive opportunity to spread the wealth – and costs – among multiple departments. This takes very little salesmanship, as staff members notice that their colleagues in the newly BI-empowered department suddenly have valuable data, and are no longer griping about reports that are out of date on delivery. The interest generated by water-cooler chat can easily lead to BI tools that benefit the entire organization.

Sharing process automation tools among work groups inevitably yields another valuable benefit: as information is shared, communication grows between user groups. As a result, departmental silos that may have developed over time begin to dissolve, leading to a more integrated, mission-focused organization.

An experienced process automation advisor can help you uncover opportunities within your organization to extend custom software applications. It’s just a matter of adopting a broad perspective, rallying support for a change to intercompany corporative processes and then preparing for applause.

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Making Customers Happy – Customer Care Mistakes on the Road to Customer Satisfaction

Making Customers Happy – Customer Care Mistakes on the Road to Customer Satisfaction

Improving the customer experience is a universal goal in business, right along with revenue growth and return on investment. But although we all know that customer care is the road to customer satisfaction, it can be difficult to navigate the journey. Knowing what to avoid can help you reach your destination more quickly and easily. Following are a few roadblocks to steer clear of in your pursuit of exceptional customer care.

Avoid indirect routing: As you chart your path to customer satisfaction, the most direct route is the most effective. Customer care cannot be a departmental initiative – it must be a company-wide vision that starts at the top. Don’t allow your organization’s customer care mission to be seen as the responsibility of any single group. Rather, insist on a commitment to quality linking everyone to the customer, from C-level executives to front-line staff.

No bad drivers: The customer care agents who respond to customers are the face of your organization: don’t let the wrong hires damage your reputation. Make sure your hiring criteria emphasize customer empathy and a commitment to serve. Train employees to see every situation from the customer’s point of view, and to listen closely to assess the nature of the problem and relationship so they can give extra attention to your best customers. Reward employees who go the extra mile in customer care, for example, calling to tell the customer when a service technician is on the way. Impose consequences for failure to follow up.

No back-seat driving: No customer ever wants to be put on hold while an agent tracks down a manager for permission to do the right thing. Build a culture of empowerment in your company in which every customer care agent can resolve a customer problem without seeking an OK from on high. Give your customer care staff the authority to make customers happy.

Kick-the-can is not allowed: Do not allow a customer to be transferred from department to department in search of a resolution to his problem. Customer care demands one-stop shopping. Align goals across all departments and divisions so everyone knows that the goal is to delight the customer, not to get rid of him.

Are we there yet? (or: How do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been?) Failure to measure virtually guarantees failure to improve. Exceptional customer care can only be achieved through scrupulous measurement and management. Establish a baseline of satisfaction. For example, a service organization might determine that no customer should have to call with a problem more than twice a year, and offer some kind of compensation if that baseline is exceeded. Establish triggers that signal potential dissatisfaction and build them into customer records. Survey customers regularly to determine their level of satisfaction, and follow up to measure improvement after a customer care transaction. As problems are resolved, be sure that you measure total customer care response time, including time spent waiting for parts or service delivery.

Don’t forget regular maintenance: As we tend to customer care problems, it’s easy to lose sight of those who don’t appear on the daily radar. Recognize and reward good customers, even if they don’t experience problems. Thank them for their business through special offers and rewards.

Great customer care doesn’t have to be expensive – it’s a matter of avoiding the detours along the way and convincing your customers that you’re the only company they want to buy from. Going the extra mile and respecting your customer’s time and concerns will ensure a positive experience for the customer and long-term benefit for your company.

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Business Transformation – Process Change: to Do It Right the First Time, Look Up

Business Transformation – Process Change: to Do It Right the First Time, Look Up

Imagine that you’re a department head in a regional office of a large national organization. For years, you’ve campaigned for a business process change that requires a new software deployment. Despite the steep up-front cost, you’re certain the return on investment will be impressive. Your process change concept may not have much traction at the division or corporate office, but you’re confident that if you can get it off the ground, it will be a winner. Finally, you’ve managed to get budget approval from the regional VP. You’ve found the best software developer and you’re ready to roll. Or are you?

Experienced process change consultants advise that an approved budget may not be enough to get the job done. Many a process change has been killed mid-stream because its sponsor failed to secure upper-level commitment. When tackling process change, it’s obviously essential to engage the stakeholders who will be directly affected. But in most cases, especially if an intervention or new software is involved, don’t forget to seek support as high up in the corporate chain of command as possible. Think of it as crossing the street in a combat zone: look left, look right, and then look up.

The more levels of management in an organization, the more important it is to have senior executive support for process change. In large and multi-national companies, it isn’t unusual for the plans of local business units to get lost in the corporate shuffle. Enlisting executive commitment for your process change will ensure that you can overcome the resistance you may encounter along the way.

Without visibility higher up the ladder, a process change project can be killed or sidelined for several reasons.

  • New budget cuts may be mandated – an all-too-common experience these days. If HQ is unaware of your unit’s need
    for process change, it’s an easy cut to make.
  • Unbeknownst to you, the division or corporate office may fund a different solution to the problem your process change is intended to solve, making yours redundant or irrelevant.
  • Your process change may not align with company strategic direction.

Although you may be action-oriented and eager to stake out your territory, haste can definitely make waste. In some cases, senior executive support is so critical that you’re doomed without it. In most cases, getting that commitment will simply allow you to get the job done more quickly and less expensively. Even if your process change plans are turned down when you seek upper-level endorsement, it’s better to get that decision sooner rather than later. Instead of wasting time and resources on a project that ultimately won’t see the light of day, you can spend the time building your case, or on other, more productive efforts.

While the risks of not having executive support are many, the benefits of having it are equally great. Process change experts know that the higher you go, the better the solutions. While you are familiar with local business unit issues, a more global perspective will help determine if the local problem you’ve identified is truly unique. Perhaps a more comprehensive solution can be of benefit to the larger organization. An aerial view may also help identify potential allies from other business units with whom you can team up to make your case.

How high is up? A good rule of thumb for seeking executive support is to go as high as possible, then try for one level higher. Incorporating senior executive commitment into your process change plans will ultimately make for a smoother deployment and get you to the finish line faster.

To learn more about process change management, please visit or e-mail

Share Business Intelligence to Improve Customer Care

Share Business Intelligence to Improve Customer Care

After speaking at the recent Management World 2010 conference in France, I was struck by the reaction of a Dutch IT engineer in the audience. The conference is presented annually by TM Forum, the world’s leading industry association for information technology in communications and media. We had presented a case study on the impressive customer care results achieved by a large telecommunications company through effective deployment
of business intelligence. Waiting his turn in a line of enthusiastic operations executives, this gentleman was puzzled.

“Please don’t be offended,” he said, “but what you’re describing isn’t rocket science.”

He was right. In fact, customer care is not rocket science – it’s way more complicated! For telecommunications companies delivering 24-hour service to millions of customers across the country, the technical operations function bears no resemblance to NASA mission control. Instead of focusing all energy and resources on a single mission, a large telecomm provider must accomplish half a million customer care missions every week. Unlike true rocket science, the mission isn’t performed by a small, elite corps of highly trained individuals with the “right stuff,” but by tens of thousands of regular folks, week in and week out, year after year after year.

These people need simple information to accomplish their missions every day. But many companies fail to provide this basic resource for customer care success. Some even believe that complexity and mystification are impressive. In reality, companies attempting to deliver excellent customer care must provide simple solutions that employees can adopt quickly so they can serve their customers well. It begins with a few simple concepts:

Great Customer Care Depends on Everyone Using the Same Yardstick

In organizations with large field operations, it’s not unusual for each location to measure its performance a little differently. But unless everyone is held accountable to the same standards, measurement becomes meaningless and customer care suffers. Begin your customer care work by establishing key performance indicators that are measured consistently across the organization.

Great Customer Care Depends on Information for All

It’s hard to improve productivity if you don’t know how your performance stacks up. Don’t hoard information – spread it around, from CEO to front-line employees. Access to current information makes an especially dramatic difference for work group supervisors, who often don’t have extensive management training. They need hard facts to manage customer care effectively. Constantly updated information on their team’s performance compared to others is the basis of objective discussions that help employees improve customer care steadily and consistently.

Great Customer Care Depends on Usability

To bring the ocean of data to life for your employees, deliver it through a simple user interface that responds to queries posed in common, “lay person” language. Making it easy and intuitive for the user encourages adoption.

Great Customer Care Depends on Carrots, Not Sticks

Don’t use business intelligence to punish poor performers. Instead, use it to reward those who beat the standard and motivate the rest.

Our client focused on reducing late arrivals for service appointments and reducing repeat service on installations. The business intelligence technology behind their customer care effort is complex, but the point of it is to empower employees to understand and take charge of whatever they control. The system the client now uses pulls data from more than 20 source systems to manage more than two million new records per day and deliver information clearly and simply to 3,000 front-line users serving 25 million customers.

Of course, all that behind-the-scenes complexity is transparent to the user. Since deploying business intelligence according to the principles outlined above, the client has seen a steady and continuing improvement in both its service issues. It’s not rocket science, but it is, without question, a real and on-going customer care success.

To learn more about business intelligence and customer care, please visit or e-mail

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