It’s roll-out time!
Generally a new system or process is launched with the intention of increasing efficiency or quality of delivery. A decision to implement a new IT-solution or change in routines typically affects different stakeholders. First, frontline staff are affected as their ways of working may change – for better or worse. And second, the experience of end customers is indirectly affected.
Make buy-in visible
Any internal improvement requires support from the top. This is particularly true in public services, where launching something new will affect several organisations. Involving each organisation’s leadership early, and getting their commitment, will help you in every step of the launch. In one case, a large hospital embarking on an extensive process improvement project had management sign a pledge that was framed and kept visible throughout the project.
Another way to make top management buy-in visible includes having leadership communicate directly to staff to underline the strategic importance of what’s being rolled out. The senior execs of one of our clients presented on-site as part of a staff training programme. In another case, senior executives attended training themselves – together with their staff. An alternative to this approach is sharing a well-crafted and honest video in which the CEO explains to everyone why what’s about to be launched matters to the business.
In order to create the right momentum to start the customer orientation transformation, all managers and the board were handed a list of customers to call and enquire about their experience with Gjensidige. Many of the managers didn’t have a direct interaction with customers. Talking with real people was a breakthrough, proving not only the importance of listening to customers, but also sending a message that top management was aligned in achieving the new customer orientation strategy.
Engage staff before, during and after
The success of an internal launch starts long before a project goes live. Involving frontline staff before launch makes it much easier to get their help in resolving unexpected issues – for them or for end-customers, during and after the project goes live. Staff goodwill alone can make or break your project.
When one of our large corporate clients was merging two B2B departments with different tools, systems and culture, they asked Livework to make sure the customer experience wasn’t affected by the merge. We worked closely with frontline staff in both departments to understand which issues they feared. We then piloted new customer meetings and ensured those involved in the pilot shared success stories with others in their department – helping them understand how the merge would positively impact customers.
Make time for training and piloting
Internal improvements call for staff training. The first phase of a successful training programme starts before the first training session. People need to be aware of what’s happening and why. Asking staff to complete exercises and allowing them time to reflect on the changes from their perspective will help people prepare for training.
Role-play is an important part of training customer-facing staff as it allows people to try out new processes and systems in a safe environment. More complex launches may require small-scale pilots to iron out the “unknown unknowns” without affecting many customers.
Training isn’t done when we think it’s done. People’s best source for tackling challenges connected to a new system or process is other people. Creating routines and channels for your staff to meet, share, motivate and solve post-training will make a roll out smoother for everyone.
Create tools to reduce uncertainty
Changing systems, processes and routines often brings along uncertainty. As a business, you don’t want that uncertainty – or your staff’s insecurity – to affect customers. In other words, you don’t want any internal hick-ups hurting your bottom line. One way to tackle this challenge is by co-creating support tools together with staff such as pocket guides, checklists, cheat sheets and handbooks which can be used during training and post-launch.
Design around the “known unknowns”
A well-designed roll out is crucial for harvesting the intended effects of a new system or process. Launches are prone to unexpected problems and a cascade of coinciding issues – luckily, there are best practices, as described above, to tackle these challenges. Designing internal launches that are both staff- and customer-friendly can result in increased adoption, higher staff satisfaction and, happy customers who didn’t notice anything changed.