A business environment that is resistant, or unfriendly to change, will not reap the benefits of customer largesse. I’ve found that because many businesses don’t have a blueprint for normalizing change, there is a dread associated with doing things differently. When this reluctance becomes a way of life, the business chokes on its own stagnation.
Let’s think about service excellence for a moment. It occurs when a business has mastered the science of delivering a superlative customer experience, for every customer interaction, across all contact channels. It is characterized by customers having good experience outcomes, as the norm. Now, customers are moving targets. Their tastes, preference, needs and expectations are changing continually and therefore, businesses have to be adaptive to remain top of mind and preserve share of wallet, with their customers.
Welcoming change, I believe, has to be a forerunner to welcoming service excellence.
Adaptation is change in action. Adaptation is like a muscle, it needs to be in motion, otherwise it loses its functionality. I like to ask clients the question, “How adaptive is your business?” Turns out that many clients believe that their businesses are “very adaptive,” but through deeper discussion, discover that they’re confusing adaptation with adjustment.
There’s a big difference between these two capacities. Let’s take a look at the difference through the lens of how businesses responded to the pandemic. Whilst many businesses adjusted (albeit hurriedly), few adapted to the new circumstances. Adjustment tends to be a superficial and reactive response when an existing situation changes. Adaptation on the other hand, activates an elemental change to the infrastructure or wiring of the business, that is productive, long-term and sustainable. In other words, adaption has more permanence.
What does welcoming change mean? It means that the leadership team will have the “courage to disturb the peace” of the workplace. When “this is the way that we’ve always done things around here” has outlived its usefulness, it’s time to welcome change. Not every leadership team has the will to go against the grain of the culture of the business, but it’s often the price to be paid to evade irrelevance.
When “this is the way that we’ve always done things around here” has outlived its usefulness, it’s time to welcome change.
Have you encountered individuals who seem to always have a “different take” on topics or issues? Change requires a business to make space for divergent opinions. Making space for divergent thinking is a game-changer for those businesses with default settings for lowest common denominator behaviours, that constrict critical and creative thinking.
When a business makes space for diversity in its many forms, as well as diverse opinions, the message that reverberates through the culture, is that optimization is favoured over consensus. In the case of decision making, the decision that generates the best outcome, will be favoured over the popular decision.
Welcoming change enables a business to accelerate its momentum. Change helps to accelerate the shedding of dead weight, including perpetually underperforming employees, bureaucratic processes and archaic practices, which in turn, allows the business to move along a little faster.
Change helps to accelerate the shedding of dead weight, including perpetually underperforming employees, bureaucratic processes and archaic practices, which in turn, allows the business to move along a little faster.
When creating a hospitable environment for change, choosing adaptation over adjustment, being willing to upend the status quo, embracing divergent thinking and accelerating momentum, are only four of the many inputs that can be considered. inputs will need to be carefully selected, depending on the profile of each business.
The right alchemy of inputs is critical to success.
So, how will service excellence be facilitated, when change becomes its ally?
Ideally, a business will experience a positive turning point in its customer relationships, simply because its changed internal infrastructure will be generating fewer service failures. Customer engagement will go from fragmented to friction-free, as it benefits from improved employee-to-employee and department-to-department engagement levels. Internal departments will begin to see themselves as customer support allies, instead of a maze of disconnected networks, each consumed with its own self-described mission that may or may not have anything to do with customer-pleasing outcomes.
A changed internal workspace, holds the promise of producing better and more productive customer outcomes.
A business should not consider welcoming change as an act of torture. This has been the typical lens through which change has been viewed over the years. Rather, let me suggest that change be considered as an act of liberation, where the business takes decisive action to forestall its own demise through obsolescence and irrelevance.
After all, isn’t the pursuit of longevity an endgame of being in business?