Success in enterprise management is easier said than done, as organizations must grapple with both the technical and human sides of change management to achieve their goals.
Drawing from her experience working across the AMCS customer base, Sharae Matteu, customer success team lead for North America, outlines a multi-step best practice for addressing technical change management:
(1) Ask what the organization wants out of technology,
(2) Accept that change will be necessary, and most importantly,
(3) Ask Again to ensure buy-in across the organization.
Step 1: Ask
AMCS: Companies may understand the benefits of technology, but may not know where to start. Is there a particular question or prompt that you ask to get the ball rolling?
SM: Well, it starts with just asking, “What do you want? " What are you trying to achieve? Everyone is looking for software for different reasons, from better visibility into finance to optimizing routes. You came to the software for something, so what is that something?
Once you figure out what success looks like to you, how do you measure success? Maybe you want to optimize your routes because your drivers are working too many overtime hours. OK, then let's come to a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) to measure success for that goal. What should your status look like in three months? Six? Nine?
It really boils down to asking questions. That’s something I used to get in trouble for when I was a little kid.
AMCS: Tell us more about that.
SM: I'm Southern and in the South, especially during my era growing up, you didn't ask questions. It was rude. My mother actually used to pinch me for asking questions.
I tell her all the time that if you would just let me ask the questions, we would know more about people. The same goes for businesses.
Step 2: Accept
AMCS: So, asking questions and identifying goals and KPI’s is the first step. What have been some of the challenges you’ve seen in progressing towards those goals?
SM: Well, people don't like change. I always tell them that you don't know what's on the other side of that change. Even if you get over on the other side and you fail, you've tried something new.
When someone is telling me about a business process and says, “Well, it's always done this way,” I say if you don’t change the way you do things, there's really no reason for you to use the software. If you were using paper and that worked, but you now have software that can optimize your process, reduce paper consumption, and get the task done with one person versus two, why don't we use it?
That's sometimes the challenge — the buy-in. You’ve set your goals and KPI’s in theory, but to get there, the mindset has to change.
Step 3: Ask Again
AMCS: Granted, in many cases a business may have officially bought in and invested in new tools, but there's still a lot of people still kind of half-operating in the old way.
SM: That’s exactly right. What often happens is that one person, whether it’s the company’s CEO or CFO, sees a need and purchases the product. But then the end-user — the dispatcher or customer Service Rep - was not part of the decision. So, I also talk to the end-user to know what's happening. Are they implementing properly? I bring those two groups together so that they can hear each other.
So, it comes back to asking others in the organization: Do they agree with this initiative? Are there gaps in the change management plan that executives didn’t consider? Are stakeholders motivated to move forward? If you don’t have buy-in from the end-user on the change management piece, you will not be successful.
Asking in Action
AMCS: We’ve discussed a general formula for succeeding with technological change: asking the right questions, accepting the answers, and asking more questions to convince and learn from stakeholders.
Could you share some examples of that formula in action?
SM: One example actually comes to mind, where two companies had the same goal and initiative, with two very different outcomes.
I’ll start with the unsuccessful example. We put a pilot out for AMCS Mobile — in-vehicle software for drivers — for a company whose drivers had been there for 20 years. The drivers wanted nothing to do with it.
The company kept saying, “It doesn't work, Sharae. It just doesn't work.” I’d ask, “What doesn’t work?” Was it because the drivers didn't want to incorporate it into their process of 20 years? That's very understandable, right?
At that point, it depends on how willing management is to start the buy-in process with the rest of their organization: It's almost like re-selling the software to the drivers to get them to do what they need. From their perspective, they said, “I'm used to getting two hours per day of overtime. Now you're cutting my pay. So why would I change my behavior?” Yeah, good point. In that particular case, we were not successful.
However, in the other case, with the exact same situation, the company changed how they compensated the drivers so that digitally enhanced dispatching didn’t hurt their pay. That company saw a successful change management to implement the software.
AMCS: Did the business still see an ROI overall?
SM: Yes, they made that back in lower maintenance fees and less fuel.
Keeping Success in Sight
AMCS: So overall, it's one thing to figure out what success looks like, but it's another thing to actually implement.
SM: That's right. Out of everything that I talk to customers about, change management is the most important. So, speak with your staff often in regard to the changes happening so that no one’s caught off guard. If you can ask the questions and get buy-in for change at the organizational and individual level, you’ll set yourself up for success.
About Sharae Matteu
AMCS: Thanks for your insights, Sharae. Could you tell us a bit more about yourself? How did you get started in customer success, and what continues to drive you today?
SM: I actually got into customer success by accident: I started working in human resources, and when the company I was working for restructured, I went into a customer success role.
And, I do have a few former lives: I'm still a licensed massage therapist, though these days I only have maybe one customer. I also ran a clinic in a hospice program. But I've always been very interested in what makes people successful. I enjoy helping people be strategic about their goals and holding them accountable for them. That's what I see customer success as — helping customers get as much as possible out of any platform that I'm representing.
Sharae Matteu is Team Lead, Customer Success for AMCS. She is based in Jacksonville, Florida and enjoys deep sea fishing, cooking, and crafts.
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