“Willingness to change is a strength, even if it means plunging part of the company into total confusion for a while” – Jack Welch.
More often than not, change in organisations is driven by external and internal circumstances.
The turn of the new millennium was one such event as organisations tried to be Y2K-compliant.
It was generally believed that systems that would not have been adjusted to new IT systems would crash.
Despite the myths and mysticism of Y2K, billions were spent on compliance applications.
Change management is when an organisation is going through a transition together with its internal customers – the employees.
Employees are taken through this journey so that they get to understand the reasons for change and why the organisation is changing from the old.
Its major objective is to assist its workforce to understand, commit to, accept and embrace changes in their operations.
The same way businesses want their employees to understand these changes should be the same way they seek to impress their customers.
An opportunity or problem can push organisations to take that radical step of change even when it is least expected.
Customer engagement is when an organisation interacts with its customers using either offline or online channels, or both.
Leading brands know that their success depends on getting information from their customers and using it to drive the necessary change.
Whenever an organisation embarks on making external or internal changes, there is a greater likelihood that those changes will have an effect on its employees as well as customers.
One can equate this effect to that which occurs in an ecosystem, where even the smallest change in one area will naturally disrupt the whole system.
This means that awareness must be made to every external or internal member of the organisation on the changes that will be undertaken by the organisation way before implementation.
A classic example is when a local cordial drink manufacturing company changed its recipe for making its drink by substituting certain ingredients with new ones.
The consumers of the cordial drink only found out after purchasing the reconstituted beverage.
The company argued that it was trying to reduce the sugar content in line with the current world health standards.
Their crime was their failure to engage their consumers way before making the new drink.
Therefore, it is the duty of organisations to inform their customers on intended changes and get the necessary feedback before implementation.
Any change done by the organisation has an attendant change to the customer experience.
Once in a while I receive calls from a local mobile network operator, and they usually ask me several questions regarding their service.
That is their way of gathering data on how, where, what and why consumers prefer their products or services.
Incentives are necessary to get customers to share their experiences, hence organisations must promote their products through their customers.
Using the right metrics
The success or failure of changes implemented by organisations should be measured. Business success can be determined when the right metrics are used to measure it. Using one metric may not be sufficient, but a combination of different metrics will certainly provide the correct information. If a customer disengages after engaging a business only once, can this be measured as success or failure?
This may not be the case.
It maybe a sure sign that depending on sales figures alone will not give a full picture of the changes undertaken by the organisation.
Instead, organisations must do a follow-up on current and potential customers. Tracking those who only did a few transactions with the organisation may help the organisation to get information on the real reasons why they did not repeat the purchases and if change was the reason.
It is always right to have the correct information about your product or services, and this can be found in both qualitative and quantitative data. Whenever there is need to ask your customers questions, you must be able to ask the right questions that will make you gather relevant information.
Organisations must keep an eye on trends. Trend analysis is useful in monitoring the effects of change on customer behaviour and can be used in coming up with a way forward.
The local cordial company had to re-introduce their original cordial flavours with the original sugar content alongside the new flavours with less sugar.
Do not make assumptions
Changes that involve technology must be done with a lot of care. The widespread use of technology may not mean every customer is techno savvy. Organisations tend to make the mistake of assuming that all customers will understand technological changes, since a large chunk of their customers are at a certain level in society.
There are some customers that may not be too well versed with the new technology, and it is the duty of the organisation to make them familiar with the changes.
For instance, the use of mobile money as a medium of exchange in Zimbabwe was a milestone.
And mobile companies had to educate the masses on how to use it.
Today almost every Zimbabwean is able to transact at ease using their phones.
Change is inevitable and also necessary!
Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba is a marketing enthusiast with a strong passion for customer service. For comments and suggestions, she can be reached on [email protected] or on 0712 979 461.