I once worked for a fintech company that ended up being taken over by a more traditional financial institution. It involved lots of change management- from the daily tasks, to process, and even the corporate culture.
Change can be uncomfortable. I resisted a lot, and it was eating me up inside. This was odd because I typically pride myself as someone open to change, especially in the workplace.
Why then, was this experience with change such a struggle?
How The Fear Of Change Impacts Customer Experience
It’s not surprising that people avoid change, and often fear it. Each individual’s journey with change management is personal, however, the way in which they choose to move with it can impact others. This includes not only other teammates, but the customers themselves.
How then, does the fear of change management trickle all the way down to the customer? Let’s take a look.
The fear of change can lead to a decrease in customer service quality
When frontline employees are apprehensive about new processes, technologies, or organizational shifts, they may resist adopting them fully. This resistance can result in less than optimal utilization of tools or procedures designed to enhance customer service. The result: inefficiencies, delays, and errors in addressing customer needs.
The fear of change may also undermine employee morale and motivation and their metrics. If some employees are anxious or have not bought in to change management initiatives, they may become less engaged in their roles. That lack of engagement may impact their willingness to go the extra mile to meet the customer where they’re at.
Sometimes, the fear of change management can create a culture of negativity and uncertainty within the workplace. For example, an employee could become concerned with their own job stability, leaving customers feeling neglected.
The fear of change can impede progress and innovation
Experience optimization and innovation are foundational to delivering a wonderful customer experience. A fear of change management can lead to more focus on the internal problem, and less focus on the customer. And hey, maybe more energy does need to be put into internal issues at that moment, but please do not forget about the customer.
A slowdown in progress in customer experience may put your company at risk of being outshined by its competitors. While prioritization is a constant balancing act in any company, keep an eye on who and what is receiving attention, shifting resource allocation as needed.
If employees are too focused on internal change management, they may become more averse to risk-taking, shying away from experimentation. I get it, in a time when there is lots of change, you may fight to maintain the status quo wherever you can. Do consider though, that failing to seek continuous improvement can lead to outdated products or services that no longer align with customer preferences.
What’s At The Root Of The Fear Of Change?
In order to uncover how to work with change for the better, we must understand what is at the core of it. The root of the fear of change often stems from a combination of anticipated loss, uncertainty, and the potential for disruption.
Implementing change can often result in loss. This is after all, a big part of a smart strategy: making the commitment to what not to do in order to stay focused on achieving the vision that you have. Employees may in fact lose some of what they liked about the status quo. However, sometimes the perception of loss is much larger than what the actual loss ends up being.
Uncertainty can arise from concerns about not being adequately prepared for change. For example, a new product direction may be announced by the CEO, and you may no longer have a clear idea about whether your role will be providing as much value as it typically did with the current product roadmap. This may lead to apprehension about job security and whether your role will remain relevant in the evolving landscape.
Change management can lead to disruption in an employee's day-to-day. Routine helps us automate some of our thinking, which then provides more space to tackle the tough cognitive problems more effectively. What happens then, when new customer experience management software is being implemented, causing you to switch up your weekly routine? Chances are, your days are now more exhausting, and that extra space you may have had to think about the customer is harder to come by.
What I’d like for you to take away from understanding these root causes, is the acknowledgement that it’s absolutely valid to feel scared or anxious about change. Both you and your coworkers require a little empathy and understanding for feeling this way. Executive stakeholders should take note!
What Is Institutional Courage?
Institutional courage refers to an organization's commitment to seek the truth and engage in moral action, despite unpleasantness, risk, and short-term cost. This includes a collective willingness and determination to make bold decisions and take actions that prioritize and enhance the customer experience during periods of transformation.
Can I bring you in on a secret? Regarding my own struggle with change with that traditional financial institution that I had mentioned at the start of this article, I did not contribute to the institutional courage needed to push forward with their change management vision. I failed to show up because my fear of change got the better of me.
3 Ways Customer Experience Leaders Champion Institutional Courage
There are so many ways in which you as a CX leader can lean into change management, making sure that the customer experience does not suffer. Here are the top three that I would recommend you start with:
- Voice Your Concerns. Speak up about potential issues or challenges. It may help the organization identify and address problems early, leading to more effective change implementation. It takes courage to express opinions or offer feedback that may challenge the status quo, but doing so can ultimately benefit the company and its ability to provide a better customer experience.
- Lead by Example. Demonstrate commitment to change and a willingness to adapt. Doing this can inspire others within the organization. By embracing change wholeheartedly, you’ll be a role model to your colleagues. A positive attitude can be contagious!
- Advocate for the Customer. Explicitly champion the cause of improving the customer experience throughout the change process. Advocating for the customer reinforces the importance of customer-centricity and can help guide decision-making during change initiatives.
CX Change Management Starts With You
Simon Sinek voiced fear of change well when he said, “The fear is not from the change, the fear is from the unfamiliarity”. Fear and change need to be managed not just for the sake of ourselves or the company, but for the customer as well.
No matter what your title or level of seniority, change management starts with you. You may not have control over the company’s high level decisions, but you do have control over how to choose to react to change. Don’t make the same mistake that I did. Make the choice to lead with empathy and courage. Everyone will be better off, trust me!
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