From Resistance to Buy-In: Strategies for Getting Employees on Board with CX Initiatives

Rachel Williams unpacks some of the common reasons for resistance, as well as outlining strategies for gaining your employees’ trust and support.

Contact CentreVoice of the CustomerInsights

Published: November 6, 2023

Rachel Williams

Rachel Williams

In a recent study, around 49% of business leaders said that CX is their top priority over product and price. This indicates that more and more customer experience initiatives will be introduced into organisations, businesses and departments.

These initiatives can include completely overhauling a company’s culture, implementing a digital transformation or bringing in a CX consultant to deliver a keynote talk and training.

But what can stand in the way of such initiatives from being effective? Well, if employees are not on board with the new program, it’s likely to fall flat. In this article, I’ll be looking at the most common reasons for employee resistance and a few key strategies to overcome them.

Common reasons for resistance

Poor Communication Strategy

CX initiatives often bring about changes that will impact how middle managers and frontline staff are working on a day-to-day basis. Additionally, the changes usually originate from senior leadership or an outside organisation.

If employees do not understand the value of the changes they may not be fully on board with the initiative.

If employees do not understand the value of the changes they may not be fully on board with the initiative, making it harder to implement.

Fear of the unknown

If a new technology is being introduced such as AI chatbots to reduce customer waiting times, some employees may experience fear. Older employees or those who are not familiar with tech may feel intimidated by the digital transformation as they are not comfortable with the concept.

This can cause genuine fear and may result in individuals being reluctant to embrace the new change.

Feeling undermined

Within a large corporate organisation, there are naturally going to be employees who have a lot of knowledge about customers, products and services. These employees may feel betrayed and undercut if a new CX initiative is being implemented without them having any input.

These staff members are arguably the experts and may resist any new ways of working that they are expected to follow.

Lack of reward or recognition

CX change programs often require colleagues to learn something new, embrace technology or undergo a restructuring within the company. This can be quite demanding for employees and they may feel resistant to change if they are not being offered an incentive.

When I worked in a large contact centre environment, the senior leadership brought in longer hours of work to improve the customer experience. This would mean that customers could call the contact centre earlier and later.

Employees were given an increased level of pay for the longer shifts which meant the changes were very well received.

No transition support

When a new initiative is put in place, the implementation process can take months. However, if there is no support for colleagues to learn and understand the new ways of working, they may give up on the new ideas and revert back to the old way of working.

Depending on what the CX initiative involves, employees may need training, a defined transition period and ongoing coaching from their manager.

Strategies to gain employee buy-in

Effective communication

Way before a new CX program is introduced, senior leaders should agree on a way to cascade the information across the organisation.

The best way is to take an omnichannel approach and communicate any changes using a variety of methods. This could include updates on the internal intranet, senior leadership communication and team managers talking to their individual teams.

A key element of success is to allow enough time for colleagues to familiarise themselves with the changes and to ask any questions they may have.

Employees need to understand the ‘why’ behind the CX initiative and if there are any benefits for them.

Additionally, employees need to understand the ‘why’ behind the CX initiative and if there are any benefits for them. For example, if a new piece of technology is going to lighten the workload of frontline employees this should be emphasised when leaders are introducing the program.

Implementation plan

Next, there needs to be a robust implementation plan in place which provides details on how the new CX program will be rolled out. For example, if a new technology is being introduced, this can be adopted in phases.

Moreover, training programs should be scheduled in advance for teams to complete if they will be learning new skills as part of the new initiative. The implementation plan should provide details of milestones, ways to measure success and what resources will be available for staff to use as a reference point during the transition period.

Incentives, rewards and recognition

Any CX initiative that requires employees to change their normal working patterns or learn a new skill should be incentivised. Here are some examples of how to achieve this:

  1. Offering a higher basic salary for changes in working patterns.
  1. Rewarding great CX performance with prizes and vouchers.
  1. Highlighting great performers during the transition period in team meetings.

CX initiatives are very important as they help organisations to bring about positive change for both customers and employees. By identifying the common reasons for resistance and addressing them with clear strategies, a new CX program is far more likely to be successful.

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