Rolling Out New Technology? Make Sure You Consider These Three Things Before You Do
As I was sitting in a dentist chair, I listened to two professionals talking heatedly about their less than exemplary office system which had launched earlier that month. They were completely oblivious to the fact that I was there - which normally wouldn’t bother me, except for the fact that their hands were in my mouth. At that moment, it dawned on me just how much technology – or the lack thereof – plays into customer experience.
Take this dental office for example. Historically, I had received incredible customer service from everyone in the office; but on this day there was a distinct difference in their personalities due to a fundamental failure in the technology that was supposed to make their lives easier. It was like a switch had flipped the day the technology went live that turned the normally friendly and smiling faces into into furrowed brows, mutters under breath, and the inability to meet my eye contact because they were, frankly, embarrassed about the excess time it was taking to provide me the help I needed. No joke, after arriving 15 minutes early to my appointment, I was actually late once I was finally finished checking in. A process that should have taken 10 minutes took almost 30 and left the employee, as well as me, frustrated. I don’t blame the team at this location – I blame the technology.
Missing system functionality, poor implementation and lack of system training, can be detrimental to any service team, making them ill-equipped or ill-prepared to confidently service customers. Technology issues roll down hill – making it difficult for your teams to service Clients, layering on frustration and longer handle times which inevitably overflows to your customer experience and reputation.
As a result of this experience, I wanted to share with you three critical success factors to ensuring the launch of your technology isn’t the demise of your employee morale or customer experience.
NEVER BUY TECHNOLOGY JUST FOR THE SAKE OF TECHNOLOGY
Your first step in any technology hunt is to first identify the challenges you’re looking to solve. This step seems so simple it almost shouldn’t have to be said; but you would be surprised at the number of companies who see a cool technology and buy it, giving secondary thought to how it will work within the company. I know you’ve heard this analogy before, but when it comes to technology, this is literally the equivalent of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Technically, yes there is always a way you can accomplish it – but not without modification and compromise to the integrity of the foundation.
Instead, create a business case identifying the challenges that need to be solved for as well as all possible solutions to solve for it. Make sure to include all solutions – people as well as technology. There is a place and time for technology, but it does not always have to be the first, best or only answer. By creating a business case, you can make sure that the challenge you are solving for stays central as you review your different solutions.
YOU PUT THOUGHT INTO SELECTING YOUR TECHNOLOGY – PUT THOUGHT INTO THE ROLL-OUT TOO
As project owner, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in implementing your technology that you forget to involve other stakeholders – other people and departments that will interact with or be impacted by your technology solution. As you review solutions, make sure to loop in the relevant stakeholders to ensure buy-in and also varying perspectives on what factors are important to ensure a successful roll-out of the solution to each department and team.
Beta tests of the technology are also important to achieve successful rollout of your technology. Pull key team leaders in from each department the technology will be used in to test the system and make sure it functions the way it is intended, and that it also meets the needs of each user. This beta group will also serve as a key group in testing your training solution. Pay close attention to the questions these users ask as they work their way through the technology, because you may be able to proactively address them in training for other users.
TRAINING! TRAINING! TRAINING!
It can never be said enough – training is key to any technology rollout. Train early and train often. Make sure you give users ample time to see, test, and use the system prior to its rollout. Let users know the big picture at the beginning of training – what challenges this system is meant to address and how it will be used as well as information on how to use the system. When you empower users with information, they will quickly become your biggest advocates in making sure the system rollout is a success.
Also, giving users as much time to work through the functionality of the system as possible before rollout will be critical in building their confidence. The last thing you want when you go live is users struggling to find their way around the system while they’re working with a customer. As we saw in the opening example with my dentist – this can wreak utter havoc on the customer service experience. Instead, build a sandbox that allows users to use dummy account and data to practice their everyday scenarios, making sure they understand how to complete each task. Giving users access to a sandbox is critical for two reasons – 1) it helps identify areas that require more or clearer training for future users and 2) practicing everyday situations will identify bugs that hinder their production – giving you time to fix them prior to launch and avoid user frustration in front of the customer. Ultimately, the more time you give users with the system, not only will they feel better prepared and confident to handle customer situations; but you’ll end up with a stronger training program and overall successful solution.