Help Customers Navigate Process Changes
I was giving a speech recently to a group of managers who were dealing with some major organizational change impacting processes, technology, and staff roles – it ran the gamut. The focus of one part of our talk was how to deal with these kinds of change in how managers address staff. However, many of these technology and process changes were viewed negatively by the customers as well, since the customer waits were increasing, their use of technology was increasing, and the overall processes were changing.
Here are a few tips we discussed on how to help customers navigate through system and process changes.
First, Convey Empathy. If people are upset or frustrated, and you show empathy with what you say and the tone and body language used, they’ll feel you’re listening. Listening conveys that you’re an understanding person who cares about them, their situation, and their feelings. If you don’t argue or interrupt, and – instead – you agree with some of what they say, they realize that they’re not in a fight, they realize they’re interacting with someone who’s on their side, and that can bring down the emotion.
Second, Set/Manage Customer Expectations. If customers are used to different processes, systems, and wait times, be proactive in communicating what they should expect from now on. With e-mails, letters, onsite signage, and in discussions, explain processes simply and succinctly. Describe timeframes, and share what they need to do versus what will be done by the company. And when the customer is engaged with your business, have employees who are not only knowledgeable of the new operations but who are also good teachers be the ones charged with engaging the customers on the new steps.
Third, Gain Feedback. Don’t assume that getting through the implementation of the change and the first encounter are the goals. Continuous improvement, customer satisfaction, and loyalty are the goals. Ensure that you have real-time and after-the-encounter processes in place to get feedback from the customer directly and about the customer’s experience from the front-line staff as well.
Finally, Get into 90-day Action Planning Mode. Take the customer and employee feedback, and use it to consistently improve the processes, systems, communications, and training.
When making internal process changes, ensure that you’re addressing the external impact on the customer, too.