According to John Kotter, over 70% of change initiatives fail primarily due to human resistance to change. The harder it is for the service techs to change their behaviors, the less likely they will be to change them. It is the job of service leaders to make the change in the way their teams are delivering service to be as easy, effortless and frictionless as possible. That’s why it is so important to identify the best practices for such a transition.
Luckily, we already have! The 8 best practices listed below are the ones that our customers with the best adoption rates use. I teach best practices to our new customers and then work with them to continuously measure and monitor their results with regards to adoption and utilization.
This is best practice number one for a reason. Installing the right leadership is the most important step companies can take to insure a successful Virtual Expertise program. There are three distinct “Leaders” that every successful program has.
This is the person who brings Virtual Expertise into the company. This person sees the value of the technology and how it can help their service organization meet their business goals and objectives or address the challenges they are facing.
This is the “make or break” position. The Program Leader is responsible and accountable for the day to day operation of the Virtual Expertise program. He or she oversees the program and is tasked with the responsibility of making it successful. Although this is usually not a full-time responsibility, the more time and effort that the Program Leader gives to the program, the more successful the program usually is. Without this person, Virtual Expertise programs will often fail to meet the expectations set forth for them. Virtual Expertise cannot be a launch and leave initiative. It takes on going, proactive, management to run a successful program.
These are early adopters of the technology who influence other team members by communicating the value they are getting using the solution
Ensure that you have the leaders in place, and properly reward this behavior!
When end users are well trained, they tend to be comfortable using a Virtual Expertise solution. Comfort leads to deeper adoption and adoption leads to value. But companies must realize that training cannot be a one time, 45- minute session, and expect end users to be comfortable and competent using the technology. As part of your best practices for user adoption, training has to be on-going and re-enforceable.
I like the model of “train and train again.” Measure and monitor end users competency levels using the solution. Observe them as they use it and focus on those who seem to be struggling using the technology. Hold both individual and group training sessions. Use on-line training materials to compliment the training you have received.
Put yourself in the shoes of the people that you are asking to become users of the new technology. You are asking them to change: to get out of their comfort zone, to adopt and use a new technology. You are asking them to change their mindset and behaviors, adopting your best practices for user adoption. These are all big asks, so it is important that you communicate the value and benefits that the end users receive when using Virtual Expertise solution.
Try to focus on What’s In It For Them, as opposed to What’s In It For The Company. Will using a Virtual Expertise solution make their job easier? Will it allow them to spend more time with their families and loved ones because they can more effectively service their customers? Can it keep them off airplanes and out of hotels by being able to fix customer issues remotely? Will the use of the technology result in a year-end bonus based on better customer experiences that they are providing?
When I first started working with service organizations helping them address the challenges of adoption and utilization, I was a proponent of the Pull Change Management model, where you gently pull people in the direction of change. A model where service executives and program leaders encourage their service team members to use the new Virtual Expertise solution. What I have found is that most times, that change model does not work when it comes to adoption and utilization of Virtual Expertise.
Our most successful customers now use the Push Change Management model where they require their service team members to use the new technology. It is NOT optional but rather it is expected. It is not to be viewed as a nice to have service tool but rather a service tool that is a MUST HAVE AND MUST BE USED.
The best way to accomplish this goal is to set daily, weekly and monthly usage goals for both individuals and teams and measure and monitor their use on a daily basis. Recognize and reward those individuals who are adopting and utilizing the technology and for those who are not, have regular meetings to find out the reasons why. Are they technology averse? Have they not been trained properly? Are they not sure when to use the technology? Get to the root cause of the reason for the lack of adoption and make the changes necessary to get them to use it but don’t give in to those who refuse to adopt. Make it well known that the company has invested in this technology and there is great benefit to both the company and the individual employee and that lack of adoption and use IS NOT AN OPTION.
Give this some thought. How do you intend to initially use your Virtual Expertise solution? What challenge are you trying to address. Identify the specific goals are you trying to achieve. What problem are you trying to solve? Where is the gap between Current State and Future State and how can Virtual Expertise bridge it?
The most common initial Use Cases that I see in the service organizations I work with are:
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to use Virtual Expertise for too many different Use Cases initially. Focus on the one (or two at most) Use Cases that will be bring the most value in the fastest time. What pain are you trying to eliminate and how can the use of Virtual Expertise help to eliminate that pain?
One of the major stumbling blocks that service technicians run into when asked to use Virtual Expertise is determining exactly when to use it. If this is unclear and left solely to the technician’s discretion, adoption falters.
Our most successful customers have reviewed their current service process and determined the best place for the use of Virtual Expertise. For some
organizations that point in the service process is determined by the length of a call into Technical Support or the amount of time spent at a customer site. For others, a dispatch of a field service engineer is not allowed until and unless a Virtual Expertise call is made.
Other service organizations will not escalate a customer issue to Tier 2 Support unless the initial triage of the problem has included a Virtual Expertise session. Or determine specific customer issues that have been fix remotely and when these customer issues arise, automatically launch a Virtual Expertise call.
When you take the guess work out of when to use the technology, it soon becomes a natural part of the way that your teams deliver service. It becomes a “no-brainer”, just like using a cell phone to make a call.
Don’t allow your Virtual Expertise initiative to live in a vacuum; one of the best practices for user adoption is sharing early success stories. Allowing others to see the potential and value of the solution can get them to want to use it themselves. Articulate who used the solution, the situation it was used in and the end result of the use of the technology.
Additionally, communicate these successes to your customers. That way, they can fully appreciate the value that your service organization brings to them.
Your program is not cast in stone. It actually will require you to make changes. At the 30, 60 and 90 day marks, take an honest look at your program. Which of these best practices are working and creating value? Conversely, what is not working? Where are stumbling blocks and challenges to adoption and utilization? Every organization is different; some of these best practices will work harder for you than the others. Talk to your service team members on a regular basis, whether in person or virtually. Pick their brains on ideas to help improve the experience that they are having using the solution and make changes based on their feedback, so they know their voices are being heard.
These best practices are based on things learned from the change model at the Bose Corporation. It states that the Probability of Change is a function of:
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