Company Changes that Create Change Management Asks of the Customer

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Anna Alley
Anna Alley Member, CS Leader Posts: 70 Expert
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edited July 2020 in Strategy & Planning

I work in a very quickly growing business. We're constantly changing and evolving which is great for our company, but can often have unintended consequences for our customers in terms of multiple change management moments that they now have to manage with their own teammates. I've recently started to call out where I think we can consolidate these changes into one communication for customers in order to try to minimize the number of changes we're introducing to customers in a short time frame. I'm curious if anyone has a similar process - a review board/stakeholder group that's looking at all customer impacting change (not just product releases) and seeing what should/could be consolidated. How did you get this buy in and also ensure you didn't become a bottle neck?

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  • Lauren Mecca
    Lauren Mecca Member Posts: 29 Expert
    edited June 2020
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    This question is really interesting to me because when I first became a CSM one of my initiatives was to get all customers to take action that only benefited us - there was nothing in it for them. Painful! 

    I'd love to hear more about the nature of these (non-product) changes - do they deal with pricing? support channels? contracting?

    In the past I've tried to get ahead of these decisions by building awareness of customer norms and expectations. I've done this by formally presenting to cross-functional groups and scheduling informal chats with influential stakeholders across functions. Doing both on a regular basis has helped me create more customer advocates around the business. 

  • Anna Alley
    Anna Alley Member, CS Leader Posts: 70 Expert
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    edited June 2020
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    Hey Lauren!

    We have a unique business where we really have two sets of customers, and sometimes changes we make on one side of the business can directly or indirectly impact the other side of the business (we use the terms Buyers and Suppliers). I primarily manage our Buyer relationships (those that purchase the software). One of the things we do for them is process their payments to the Suppliers, but we also have offerings directly to those Suppliers that the Buyer does not control. Oftentimes when we have new initiatives whether that's a change in the offering, change in price structure, process changes, etc. it has an impact on the Buyer experience. There's a lot of wrangling of other teams that don't interact with our Buyers at all to try to get them to think about the holistic picture and all the areas a change might impact.

  • Patrick Kalie
    Patrick Kalie Member Posts: 3 Navigator
    edited June 2020
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    I 100% recommend the book Switch by Dan and Chip Heath. 

    They have a great framework for encouraging folks to change behavior, and it's based around the elephant and rider theory . 

    I thought it sounded a little bit nonsensical, but it's a really good framework for your change management strategy. The basic idea is:

    1. Direct the rider (instruct people's rational side). You can do this by scripting critical moves and providing clear examples. (e.g. Relationship management is a pillar of our platform. We tell our clients to log their interactions while they're in the cab ride back from a meeting).

    2. Motivate the elephant (tap into people's motivated side). We do this by embracing the challenger sale. We talk about how their competitors are embracing change and that they'll fall behind if they don't as well. 

    3. Shape the path (make it easier for them to complete the change). The best way we learned to do this was through stressing that the change was personalized exactly for them. 

    To directly answer your question, we employ email drip campaigns as well as full-team meetings with the CSM during onboarding. But we stick to all three of the change management pillars above while we do it. 
     

  • Anna Alley
    Anna Alley Member, CS Leader Posts: 70 Expert
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    edited June 2020
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    Great! I'll check it out!

  • Archive User
    Archive User Member Posts: 24 Thought Leader
    edited July 2020
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    Great suggestion @Patrick Kalie - a nice model for thinking about guiding change! 

    Long comment, but here's my punchline: change is best managed when SOMEONE is responsible for providing an effective conduit of change communications: 

    • who and when might stakeholders be impacted?
    • why they need to care about a coming change, and how does it affect them?
    • what do they need to know/ learn/ prepare for to be successful in a changed world? 

    (and then...more about this)

    When thinking about changes across a portfolio - of customers, service lines, or geographies - we've often seen that we are chiefly curating and communicating activities that are coming up o the horizon. In your case @Anna Alley , you sit at an interesting intersection and are capable of communicating about ecosystem changes (industry trends, coming impacts for buyers, impacts for suppliers, changes in you SaaS to support all parties).

    Doing this well draws on two realms of thinking: traditional technology change control (ITIL) and organizational change management (Kotter/ Prosci), as contrasting examples.

    Traditional technology vendors formalized efforts for technology change control (part of the ITIL practice model), but this is so that folks can trace what changed since yesterday. 

    Managing expectations - "what will coming changes mean to ME and MY organization?" - usually falls in the Organizational Change Management arena. This focuses on how people and organizations ADAPT to change, and then ADOPT behaviors that allow them to continue to move forward.

    There is a blend of learning from both camps - the basic structure and intention of a standing Change Advisory Board (CAB model) from ITIL spotlights the importance of managing risks during times of change. As risks are better understood  (likelihood, who, when, where, why), the tools of Organizational Change Management (OCM) come into play - communicating with stakeholders, offering targeted and timely training to bridge into the future, developing supports and references to lessen the pains of coming changes.

    (Atlassian has a nice write-up explaining managing technology change versus managing people change, and you can start to see how fusing these concepts together can be powerful.)

    Hope that helps - hit me back if this sparks for you!