How to launch a digital transformation initiative

How to launch a digital transformation initiative

Getting started

Putting employees at the centre of your digital transformation is as important as putting customers at the core of your customer experience. Effecting a company-wide digital transformation comes with many great benefits. However, you may also face some challenges. Because change impacts every part of the organisation, you need to get cooperation from all corners of the business.

As it relates to Customer Service and Experience, three goals of digital transformation are:

  • Customer experience: Your first goal for digital transformation is to deliver a more personalised, friction-free experience that builds customer relationships.

  • Agent and employee experience: Your second goal is to improve the agent and employee experience, so you create satisfied employees who deliver good service and are loyal to the organisation.

  • Grow the business: Digital transformation will reduce costs by creating a more productive operation as a result of workflow, automation and employee retention. Improvements to the customer experience will reduce customer churn while increasing revenue as loyal customers choose to purchase more products and services.

Recognise political & structural challenges

Companies face several challenges when ramping up to start a digital transformation initiative. Typically, they find a mix of political and organisational issues that include a lack of:

  • Stakeholders not understanding the “why” or “what’s in it for me”: You may get pushback if critical stakeholders don’t understand the vision and reason behind the changes.

  • Leaders and sponsors: You may find that leaders and sponsors are reluctant to sign on without some persuasion.

  • Skilled workers: Not all workers skilled in one area are prepared to transition to something new. Also, it can be necessary to realign your hiring practices to accommodate new requirements.

  • Training materials: Managers may not realise that both self-serve and group training will be needed to help make the transition and overlook this important element.

  • A document rollout plan: Often, managers can rush into deploying technology without a detailed plan of action.

  • Clarity about the metrics: Without a clear understanding of the metrics, they will use to define success, managers are unable to show that progress is being made.

Understanding & speaking to the C-level & executive sponsors

C-level buy-in is central to any company-wide effort. The key to real digital transformation is the participation of all front-line executives whose businesses are affected. C-level executives themselves may be reluctant to take risks when transforming their business. Many people assume that employees will be the major roadblock to achieving success, but without a clear mandate from the top, the transformation can’t proceed. For this reason, the C-level needs to explore their feelings about making the effort a success.

One essential action that helps executives see the value of transformation is to tie business goals to technology goals. They need to understand how the business will be improved: a better experience for employees and customers retains existing clients and positive word of mouth delivers new customers. On top of that, new revenue can be generated from satisfied customers. Understanding the growth and revenue opportunities can go a long way to helping executives enthusiastically participate.

Identify those leaders who can champion the change and model the correct attitude and behaviour toward change regardless of where they are in the organisation hierarchy. All executives must work at fostering and maintaining a digital culture. They need to understand that there may be push-back from people who don’t want to learn new ways of accomplishing their work, but the right culture can help everyone move forward.

Understanding employee motives

There are generally four classes of employees you may confront when embarking on a digital transformation. They’re the employees who are:

  • Resistant to change but have the skills: The people in this group are the most common. They just don’t want to jump into making changes unless they see the benefits.
  • Excited to make the change and love a challenge: They can consist of a small but essential group that can help others get over their reluctance. Try to identify them as soon as possible.
  • Afraid that they don’t have the skills to make the change: They are difficult to deal with because they may not be willing to admit that fear is holding them back.
  • Afraid their jobs will be automated away: These people think that circumstances are beyond their control. They feel helpless.

In truth, you’ll probably find a mixture of motives. Being aware of them all is the key to helping your employees achieve success.

Transformation methodology 

ServiceNow has developed the “Now Value methodology” that helps guide your digital transformation from vision to value using the following steps:

  1. Envision: Define what you hope to accomplish and create a roadmap.
    Identify goals and set benchmarks.

  2. Create: Determine how to reach your goals by developing customer experiences that deliver exceptional service.
    Use such things as native mobile experiences and analytics to unlock productivity.

  3. Validate: Measure the progress you make.
    This step helps you determine where you are in the process and how you can continue to innovate and gain momentum for the next phase.

  4. Champion: Use your success measures to validate your progress and champion them to the C-level.
    Tell the story of your success and build on it.

Being able to demonstrate success is key to keeping a digital transformation on track. It has been shown that being able to tie business goals to specific metrics goes a long way to keeping the C-level supportive. Inevitably, when revenue and EBITDA growth can be directly traced to the effort, everyone gains a new respect for the effort.

Get help from an experienced partner

Implementing a digital transformation is complex, risky and takes time but must also be customised to meet the needs of each individual organisation. There is no one size fits all and for this reason you may need an expert partner who understands the technology as it is applied to your vertical market. The right partner will have an implementation plan they can tailor to you that includes all the key success factors and outlines all the steps involved and resources necessary to effect change.

Change management challenges

Most people aren’t fond of change. Convincing them that changing their behaviours will directly benefit them is key to overcoming their reluctance. Add that to the fact that any difficulties affecting their personal lives may also have an impact. For example, do you get started immediately or wait for a global pandemic to end before commencing on a large company-wide initiative that requires people to come together under one strategic objective? With the right partner to assist, you may find that even in difficult circumstances success can be achieved.

Also, once change starts, it’s ongoing. New ways to accomplish things are always being found, customer expectations change and new technology makes changes easier to implement. For these reasons, employees need to be prepared for continual long-term changes.

By developing an effective workflow, employees can be shown that spending their time working on the right things, not just the things that appear in their inbox, is more valuable and satisfying. It would be great if all employees embraced digital transformation and jumped into it enthusiastically. However, that won’t happen. Therefore, management needs to be sensitive to employee’s fears and concerns.

Help get your employees get onboard in the following ways:

  • Listen to their fears. Listen to your employees’ concerns. They may fear being replaced or that they won’t be able to keep up. Without a clear understanding of their concerns, you’ll likely get push-back or non-cooperation. Ongoing communication should be an essential activity for all managers.
  • Point out your investment in their career. Let employees know that you’ll train and work with them to upgrade their skills. This education is an investment in them and should be understood as such.
  • Help them by demystifying the mission. Employees can fall prey to rumours about the changes that are being contemplated and instantly turn off. Clarifying what the goals are will help avoid the circulation of false rumours.
  • Demonstrate how it will make them more productive. By explaining how automation can eliminate repetitive and low-level tasks, you can show them how their jobs can be enhanced.
  • Build trust. By continually focusing on transparent employee communications and developing the organisation's culture, you will help people trust that the changes being made will benefit them.

Focus on excellence

Excellent customer service depends on identifying black holes and gaps. The last thing you want is to leave someone waiting with no resolution in sight. Aside from the bad service, you can be sure that unhappy customers will make their displeasure known to others and even on social media. It’s important to regularly audit your customer journey and make sure the experience always meets your defined standards. Creating workflows with detours and escalation paths helps ensure resolution timelines are adhered to, so customers are never left waiting.

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