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Since the 1970s, the failure rate of change initiatives has stayed remarkable stable. In its article ‘Changing change management’, McKinsey notes that “70% of change programs fail to achieve their goals, largely due to employee resistance and lack of management support. We also know that when people are truly invested in change it is 30% more likely to stick.”
The authors of the McKinsey article assert that digital technology has the power to drive change, noting how B2C companies are employing digital tools to enhance the customer journey and shift behavior. In this article, we take a deeper dive into what this means by examining how you can employ omnichannel for change management success.
While McKinsey says that change initiatives mainly fail because of employee resistance and lack of management support, it is necessary to know the nature of the underlying cause of this to develop strategies to eliminate these issues.
In its in-depth report, ‘The High Cost of Low Performance: The Essential Role of Communications’, the Project Management Institute (PMI) examines how ineffective communications impact project outcomes and subsequent business success. It found that effective communication produces more successful projects. In fact, the difference it makes is astounding:
Organizations that employ effective communication complete an average of 80% of projects on time, within budget, and meeting project goals.
Compare this to the 70% failure rate generally accepted as the norm, and we really get an idea of the positive effects of effective communication through organizational change. Indeed, effective communication is a theme that runs through our seven strategies for overcoming resistance to change in the workplace. The PMI puts poor communication as the reason for a third of all unsuccessful projects.
Given that organizational change is so negatively affected by poor communication, it becomes incumbent on change management to seek effective communication strategies that reduce employee resistance to change and demonstrate management support to engage people in transformational change. By examining how retailers engage their customers in the world of digital communications, change leaders could develop more successful communication strategies.
A marketer’s job has evolved from selling services and products to engaging customers in the brand, to improving loyalty, customer retention and sales. They do this by utilizing multiple communication channels and engaging their customers where those customers prefer to be engaged. This omnichannel approach has been proven to work. For example, the Harvard Business Review describes how 73% of customers shop across multiple channels.
Other omnichannel statistics published in the State of the Omnichannel Report include:
73% of customers use multiple channels during their shopping journey
89% of customers are retained by companies with omnichannel engagement strategies compared to 33% with a poor omnichannel strategy
Customer satisfaction is 23 times higher for companies with omnichannel strategies
The conclusion is that retail businesses are selling more to more loyal customers because they employ an effective omnichannel communication strategy.
Retailers know how to capture the hearts and minds of their customers. There are five primary tactics to this objective, and omnichannel communication is proving the perfect strategy to achieve this.
1. Provide information at the right time
The best results are achieved when the recipient is most receptive to receiving information. That’s when people are thinking about a subject, or have expressed an interest in it recently. We see this online continuously.
Make a Google search and click on a topic, and then you begin to receive ads pertinent to that topic on your social media accounts.
In malls, shoppers start to receive texts when they near stores with whom they have shopped previously and signed up for text alerts.
2. Personalize messages
You’ll notice, too, that many of these advertising messages are personalized. That advert you receive online may include your name, but will also be pertinent to your previous search – if you have been searching for men’s shirts, you’ll receive targeted adverts for men’s shirts, and not an advert for footwear.
Messages can be personalized as to interest, location, price range, and a host of other factors. This means the advertising message becomes more meaningful and less spammy.
3. Direct contacts
The personalization theme continues by providing you with a direct contact rather than a centralized email or phone number. If you have shown an interest in loans, click on the advert and you’ll be directed to the relevant web pages. Here you can interact with chatbots or humans with specialist knowledge, rather than a general call center. You bypass hierarchy, and the retailer is more likely to retain your call.
4. Build community
Increasingly, organizations are allowing their followers to become involved directly in helping potential customers. They set up social media pages on which they encourage customers to comment, and forums in which they allow questions to be asked and answered by community members.
The organization can then disseminate relevant information to these online communities, enabling community members to share with their own networks. Customers become online advocates, and good news is spread to a growing audience.
5. Update on new product releases
The easiest customers to market to are current customers, so it is no surprise that retailers request email addresses when they sell. The data that retailers capture enables them to build a picture of people’s spending habits and to develop relevant customer personas. They can email these customers, or message them via instant messengers or social media accounts, offering them personalized information about updated products and special offers. SMS messages especially are an effective way of marketing, with average response times of just 90 seconds.
The striking evidence provided by omnichannel statistics shows that an omnichannel approach engages people more fully and prompts them to take positive action. Change managers must sell change to lead change – they must communicate effectively. Communicating across multiple channels, personalizing that communication, and providing change stakeholders with the information they want when they want it is good communication. But it mustn’t be a one-way street.
An effective communication during transformational change enables people to ask questions, exchange ideas and discuss their concerns, while being kept in the loop and fully informed.
An omnichannel communication strategy can achieve all the above. However, before rushing headlong into firing thousands of messages to your staff via SMS, instant messenger, WhatsApp groups, your intranet, and so on, a word of warning is necessary: if your omnichannel communication strategy is not connected, it can do more harm than good.
It is critical that you develop a comprehensive communications plan, with communication practices agreed by all. Discuss and identify the communication tools that your people want to use and build a framework in which they can be used most effectively by engaging your people in the process of change.
Omnichannel communication is a powerful strategy if applied correctly. First, identify your communication goals. Then build the omnichannel communication framework needed to encourage the behaviors that will support the attainment of those goals, incorporating feedback at every step.
To learn more about the power of omnichannel communication and how to embed the omnichannel mindset in your leadership thinking, contact Forward Focus today.
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